×

Soap Star Matthew Cowles Dies at 69

Matthew Cowles, a character actor best known for his role as Billy Clyde Tuggle on the soap opera “All My Children,” died of congestive heart failure in New York City on May 22. He was 69.

Cowles was married to “The Good Wife’s” Christine Baranski.

Cowles made a career of playing villains who come to a bad end. He often joked that he “made a living dying.” He will be best remembered for his portrayal of Tuggle, the pimp who terrorized the town of Pine Valley on ABC’s “All My Children.” His work on the soap opera spanned four decades, as his role recurred throughout the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and again in 2013, when the show was temporarily resurrected. The role garnered Cowles a daytime Emmy nomination.

Other memorable roles for Cowles included Monkey John, whom he portrayed in the TV miniseries “Lonesome Dove” (1989), and a schizophrenic homeless man named Lemonhead in an episode of “Law & Order” (1991). Other film and television credits include “Midnight Cowboy,” “Slap Shot,” “The World According to Garp,” “Eddie Macon’s Run,” “The Money Pit,” “The Juror,” “Nurse Betty” and, recently, “Shutter Island.”

Cowles also had an extensive stage career. He made his Broadway debut in 1966, starring in the world premier of Edward Albee’s “Malcolm.” In 1968 he played alongside Al Pacino in Israel Horovitz’s “The Indian Wants the Bronx.” Cowles also co-starred with Christopher Walken in “Kid Champion” and “Sweet Bird of Youth,” both in 1975. He made his last New York stage appearance in 2012 in “Taming of the Shrew” at the Theatre for a New Audience.

In addition, Cowles wrote three plays: “Mexican Standoff at Fat Squaw Springs,” “Our Daily Bread” and “Noblesse Oblige.” He also wrote a series of short stories and songs recounting his 50 years as an avid motorcyclist.

Born in New York City, Cowles was the son of Broadway producer Chandler Cowles and studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse.

When he married Baranski, he drove her away from the country church where they wed on a black BMW motorcycle named Lucifer. They met doing Ibsen’s “Ghosts” in 1981 and worked together again in “Hedda Gabler” (1987).

In addition to Baranski, to whom he was married for 30 years, Cowles is survived by two daughters, Isabel Murphy and Lily Cowles, and by a grandson, Max Francis Murphy.

More TV

  • CENTRAL PARK FIVE

    Netflix and Ava DuVernay Sued by Police Interrogation Firm

    The company behind a controversial police interrogation technique filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against Netflix and director Ava DuVernay, claiming that it was defamed in DuVernay’s miniseries on the Central Park jogger case. John E. Reid and Associates developed the Reid Technique in the late 1940s, and it has continued to offer training materials [...]

  • Noah Oppenheim

    NBCU Has Likely Succession Plan Set at NBC News

    NBC News President Noah Oppenheim has been battling Ronan Farrow in recent and disturbing headlines, but the executive remains the most likely candidate to succeed NBC News and MSNBC Chairman Andy Lack, according to people familiar with the matter. Lack, who has seen NBC News through one of its most tumultuous eras, has a contract [...]

  • Succession Season 2 Roman Gerri

    How 'Succession' Turned Rich-People Problems Into TV's Most Satisfying Drama (Column)

    It was only as the credits rolled on the Season 2 finale of “Succession” that I realized I was standing. At some point during the exhilarating final scene, I’d apparently leapt to my feet, radiating with the thrill of watching the last meticulously placed domino fall. It was startling to understand just how invested I’d [...]

  • '100% Wolf - Legend of the

    '100% Wolf - Legend of the Moonstone' Leads Most Viewed Show at MipJunior

    Animated series “100% Wolf – Legend of the Moonstone” from Germany’s Studio100 Media topped the poll of most-watched shows at MipJunior, the children’s content market in Cannes, which wrapped Sunday. The series follows the adventures of Freddy Lupin, a young werewolf who has been accidentally turned into a poodle, but is determined to prove he’s [...]

  • jay-wallace-fox-news

    'News Stars' Will Fill Shepard Smith's Slot, Says Fox News President (EXCLUSIVE)

    Shepard Smith has left the Fox News building, but his hour will remain staffed by employees from the network’ news division. Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, Brit Hume, Shannon Bream, Martha MacCallum, Bill Hemmer and John Roberts are among the Fox News Channel news anchors who will do a stint in the 3 p.m. hour vacated [...]

  • craig-ferguson-join-or-die

    Craig Ferguson Game Show 'The Hustler' Gets Picked Up by ABC

    Comedian and host Craig Ferguson is returning to the airwaves with a new trivia game show series at ABC, “The Hustler,” in which one player will already secretly know all the answers. The format involves five contestants working together on a series of trivia questions, with the aim of growing and winning a collective prize [...]

  • Patrick Dempsey poses with his 'Excellence

    Patrick Dempsey, Alessandro Borghi Discuss Being Part of 'Devils'

    Patrick Dempsey (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Italian actor Alessandro Borghi (“Suburra”), who co-star in the anticipated financial-world thriller series “Devils,” said the show pulled them into uncharted territories. A sign that the TV drama business is becoming increasingly global, “Devils” marks the first truly international drama for both actors. Although it shot in English, “Devils” was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content