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Character actor Gammon dies at 70

He founded Hollywood's MET Theater

Actor-producer James Gammon died July 16 of cancer in Costa Mesa, Calif. He was 70.

With his rugged looks and gruff voice Gammon usually played the tough guy, often in TV oaters from “Bonanza” to “The Young Riders” to “Streets of Laredo.” Though he was only a decade older than Don Johnson, he twice played Johnson’s father: in 1995’s “The Long Hot Summer” and as a regular in 1996 Eye drama “Nash Bridges.”

Gammon started in showbiz as a TV cameraman but started acting with 1966 CBS series “The Wild Wild West.” His smallscreen credits include “The Waltons,” “Homefront” and “Bagdad Cafe.”

Born in Illinois, Gammon often played characters from the Southwest and, while he was frequently the tough, he could also essay lighter roles as in “Nash Bridges” and as Coach Lou Brown in 1989 feature “Major League” and its sequel.

He appeared in more than 60 films including “Silverado,” “Wild Bill,” “The Milagro Beanfield War,” “Cold Mountain” and “Appaloosa.”

Gammon co-founded Hollywood’s MET Theater in the early 1970s and often performed in its productions. His last appearance was in 2003’s “King Lear,” when he played the title role while his daughter, Allison Mann, essayed the part of Cordelia.

A favorite of playwright Sam Shepard, Gammon was in many the scribe’s plays, starting with 1973’s “Curse of the Starving Class” at the MET as well as in “The Late Henry Moss,” “Simpatico,” “A Lie of the Mind,” and 1996 revival of “Buried Child,” for which he earned a Tony nomination.

Surviviors include his wife of 38 years, Nancy; daughters Allison Mann and Amy Gammon; two grandchildren; a brother and a sister.

A memorial will be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 22 at the MET Theater, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hollywood, CA 90069

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