R.G. Armstrong, a character actor with roles in a number of films by director Sam Peckinpah, as well as a vast number of credits in other Westerns for both the big- and smallscreen, died July 29 in Studio City, Calif. He was 95.
Armstrong appeared in Peckinpah’s films “Ride the High Country” (1962), “Major Dundee” (1965), “The Ballad of Cable Hogue” (1970)
and “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” (1973). The actor had earlier appeared in the pilot episode of “The Rifleman,” penned by Peckinpah, in an episode of the series helmed by him and in an episode of “The Westerner,” created by Peckinpah.
Armstrong also appeared in three films directed by Warren Beatty: “Heaven Can Wait,” “Reds” and “Dick Tracy
” (in which he played the villain Pruneface).
Armstrong often played sheriffs and marshals, including in Sidney Lumet’s Tennessee Williams adaptation “The Fugitive Kind”; he also essayed a variety of generals, sports coaches, mayors and ministers.
In addition to the Peckinpah films, the actor also appeared in Western pics including Howard Hawks “El Dorado,” with John Wayne; Cliff Robertson’s “J.W. Coop”; and Philip Kaufman’s “The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid.” His TV Western credits included “Have Gun — Will Travel,” “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” “Maverick,” “Wagon Train,” “Rawhide
,” “The Big Valley,” “Bonanza” and “Gunsmoke.”
The prolific actor did a great deal of work outside Westerns, however, especially later in his career. He was in ’70s actioners like “White Lightning” and “White Line Fever”; Bill Murray starrer “Where the Buffalo Roam,” Chuck Norris pic “Lone Wolf McQuade,” Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle “Predator” in the 1980s; and Mel Gibson revenge thriller “Payback” and a version of “The Man in the Iron Mask” in the 1990s.
Robert Golden Armstrong Jr. was born in Birmingham, Ala. and graduated from the U. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He attended Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio in New York in the mid-1950s, which led to roles in Elia Kazan’s original production of Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in 1955 (as Dr. Baugh), in other Broadway shows, including “Orpheus Descending” and “The Miracle Worker
”; and to uncredited roles in Kazan films “Baby Doll” and “A Face in the Crowd.”
Armstrong had made his feature debut in the then-scandalous 1954 film “Garden of Eden”; in 1958 he appeared in his first feature Western, Henry Hathaway’s “From Hell to Texas,” and his first TV Western, “Jefferson Drum.”
Armstrong is survived by four daughters, a son and five grandchildren.