Actor Noble Willingham, who left his role as saloon owner C.D. Parker on TV series “Walker, Texas Ranger” to make a run for political office in Texas, died Jan. 17 at his home in Palm Springs, Calif. He was 72.
He died of natural causes, according to the Riverside County coroner’s office in nearby Indio.
Born in Mineola, Texas, Willingham worked in the oil fields and as a steam fitter. After graduating from Baylor U., he worked as a teacher until helmer Peter Bogdanovich came to Texas to cast 1971’s “The Last Picture Show.”
After appearing in that pic, Willingham gave up teaching and moved to Hollywood. Among the dozens of films he appeared in, often playing a gruff Texan, were “Paper Moon,” “Chinatown,” “Norma Rae,” “Good Morning Vietnam,” “City Slickers” and “The Hudsucker Proxy.”
He also had an extensive TV career, with guest appearances on shows including “Gunsmoke,” “Remington Steele,” “L.A. Law,” “Highway to Heaven” and “Home Improvement.”
After making an unsuccessful bid for the House of Representatives in 2000 he returned to acting, filming “Blind Horizon” with Val Kilmer in 2002. The movie is scheduled to be released this year.
Willingham is survived by his wife, Patti, two daughters, a son and a grandson.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Autism Research Institute, 4182 Adams Ave., San Diego, CA 92116; or the Texas Special Olympics, 7715 Chevy Chase Drive, Suite 120, Austin, TX 78752.