Saginaw Grant, the Native American actor known for his performance as Chief Big Bear in “The Lone Ranger” and for featured roles in “Breaking Bad” and other popular series and films, died Wednesday in Hollywood, according to the Associated Press. He was 85.
Grant’s publicist, Lani Carmichael, confirmed to the AP that he died peacefully of natural causes at a private care facility. “He loved both Oklahoma and L.A.,” Carmichael said about Grant, who was also the hereditary chief of the Sac and Fox Nation. “He made his home here as an actor, but he never forgot his roots in Oklahoma. He remained a fan of the Sooner Nation.”
Grant was born in Pawnee, Okla. in 1936 and later served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. His acting career began after being approached to appear in a Chrysler commercial, and in the late 1980s he began acting in character roles, with early credits including “War Party” (1988), “Harts of the West” (1993-94) and a 1993 episode of “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” where he played Grey Cloud opposite Harrison Ford.
In addition to “The Lone Ranger” and “Breaking Bad,” Grant also appeared on “Baywatch,” “My Name Is Earl,” “Saving Grace,” “American Horror Story,” “Shameless,” “Community,” “Workaholics” and “Veep,” according to his IMDb page.
In addition to portraying Native American characters on screen, Grant spent much time in Native American communities throughout his career. Carmichael shared that he was active in the California powwow circuit, and a memorial post on his Facebook page stated that these events saw Grant at his happiest.
He also traveled internationally to speak publicly about Native American life and culture, and participated in different cultural organizations in California, such as the American Indian Advisory Board of the San Diego International Film Festival.
Carmichael emphasized Grant’s kindness and humility throughout his life. “His motto in life was always respect one another and don’t talk about one another in a negative way,” she told the AP.