Clifton James, Sheriff in James Bond Films, Dies at 96

Clifton James
Danjaq/EON/UA/REX/Shutterstock

Clifton James, a veteran actor who appeared as Sheriff J.W. Pepper in two James Bond films, died Saturday morning at age 96.

James died just blocks away from his childhood home, surrounded by friends and family, loved ones told Variety in a statement.

Clifton was born in 1920, the eldest child of Grace and Harry James, and grew up just outside Portland, Oregon during the heart of the Great Depression.

According to relatives, he fought for five years on the front lines of the South Pacific, earning two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star for his service during World War II.

His acting career spanned nearly six decades, and included theater, film, and television. First appearing on stage in “The Time of Your Life,” he would go on to perform in several Broadway shows, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “All The Way Home.”

James most famous role came on film. He appeared in two James Bond films opposite Roger Moore: “Live and Let Die” (1973) and “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974). He portrayed the crowing Louisiana sheriff, J.W. Pepper (pictured). James would play similar Southern lawman in numerous other roles during his career, including “Silver Streak” and “Superman II”

Among his other film credits included “Cool Hand Luke,” “Eight Men Out” and “The Bonfire of the Vanities.”

James enjoyed celebrating holidays with his wife Laurie. He is survived by his sisters, Cicely and Beverley; his five children, Cory, Winkie, Hardy, Lynn, and Mary; fourteen grandchildren; and four great grandchildren.

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  1. oded says:

    fantastic actor, one of the funniest actor ever!

  2. everfi login says:

    You picked the wrong town to hall ass in, great actor, RIP.

  3. GLB says:

    His character in “Cool Hand Luke” was perfectly played. Very good actor and a long active life and career. Prayers to his family.

  4. Al Sanchez says:

    Let’s not forget Silver Streak……. I’ll really miss him. He was so amusing in his Southern redneck character acting. RIP

  5. Clifton James knowing that he is a Real American hero! Good people like him is what makes the United States and great nation. His courage to endure and excell in life. Clifton will be missed. My deepest condolences to the family and friends.

  6. Scott Haltom says:

    He was also in “Experiment In Terror”.

  7. Frank R says:

    So sorry to hear about Clifton . I was friends with his son Hardy in Dix Hills , and his Dad was always very nice to our whole group . I fondly remember the days of Clifton pitching softball to us . A great family .

    Frank R

  8. Dory Dean Alford says:

    Though Clifton was my dad’s cousin, us kids always referred to him as “Uncle Clifton’. Uncle Clifton was not only a war hero and a famous actor he was a wonderful card player. During family visits he would entertain us kids with the best card tricks. Thank you, Uncle Clifton, for all the wonderful memories. We will miss you. In sorrow, Dory Ann Dean Alford

  9. ReeferJames says:

    Best Part of all in Live & Let Die! Rest In Peace Clifton!

  10. John says:

    007 – “I hereby deputize you!” – long live Sheriff Pepper!

  11. Mr. Hammer says:

    He was 95, minimum… Sorry, someone had to say it. One of my favorite characters of the Bond films.

  12. Richard Florio says:

    He was a great guy. I knew him personally, he used to pal around with my father back in the 70’s. May he rest in peace.

  13. Janet says:

    Awww, that’s sad. He cracked me the hell up.

  14. Resende says:

    OH :(

  15. Paully says:

    RIP very funny man.. I will always remember his line in Superman 2 . Seeing black leather clad Kryptonian’s in the desert ” The look like they are from Los Angeles”..

  16. Alex Meyer says:

    RIP

  17. Susan Schnapf says:

    The James family were neighbors many years ago. He was very generous & came to my high school to talk and when a friend & I saw All the Way Home, he took us behind the scenes after the production. He was a wonderful actor.

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