HomeEntertainmentClu Gulager, Rugged Character Actor of Film and TV, Dies at 93

Clu Gulager, Rugged Character Actor of Film and TV, Dies at 93

Clu Gulager, a rugged character actor who appeared in critically acclaimed movies like “The Final Image Present” in addition to low-budget horror films, and who memorably portrayed gunslingers on two tv westerns, died on Friday at his son John’s house in Los Angeles. He was 93.

John Gulager confirmed the demise. He mentioned his father’s well being had been in decline since he suffered a again harm a number of years in the past.

Mr. Gulager’s rough-hewed attractiveness and Southwestern upbringing made him a pure for the westerns that proliferated on tv within the Nineteen Fifties and ’60s. He was seen often on “Wagon Practice,” “Bonanza,” “Have Gun — Will Journey” and different reveals.

An look because the hit man Mad Canine Coll on “The Untouchables” in 1959 persuaded the author and producer Sam Peeples to forged Mr. Gulager because the legendary outlaw Billy the Child on “The Tall Man,” a tv sequence he was planning about Billy’s friendship with Sheriff Pat Garrett. (By most accounts the title was a reference to Garrett’s honesty and rectitude, and to the present’s opening credit, wherein Garrett’s lengthy shadow stretches in entrance of him.)

“He’s precisely what we have been searching for, an actor with a aptitude for the bizarre,” Mr. Peeples mentioned in a TV Information profile of Mr. Gulager shortly after the present first aired in 1960. “He lends a sure psychological depth to Billy.”

The friendship between the lawman (performed by Barry Sullivan) and the gun-toting rustler was fictionalized and tremendously exaggerated over the present’s 75 episodes; many historians imagine that Sheriff Garrett truly shot and killed Billy in 1881. Their deadly encounter by no means occurred on the present, which ended abruptly in 1962.

Mr. Gulager performed a extra lawful character on “The Virginian,” the primary of three Sixties western sequence that ran for 90 minutes, which starred James Drury and Doug McClure. Mr. Gulager’s character on the present, Emmett Ryker, was launched within the present’s third season when a wealthy man tried to rent him to homicide a rancher. Though he refused to be a employed killer, he was framed for killing the person. After clearing his identify, Ryker channeled his penchant for violence into the service of the legislation.

Credit score…NBC,through Photofest

In Mr. Gulager’s first scene, Ryker was usually unflappable. He walked right into a saloon and inside moments angered a person enjoying playing cards. Ryker drew his gun on the cardboard participant earlier than he may get up, ending the battle.

Moments later a deputy sheriff requested Ryker the place he discovered to attract like that.

“Within the cradle,” he replied.

Mr. Gulager’s appearing profession, which lasted nicely into the twenty first century, was not relegated to the frontier. He appeared on non-western tv reveals together with “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Knight Rider” and “Homicide, She Wrote,” and in a number of notable films.

He and Lee Marvin performed hit males in “The Killers,” a 1964 movie noir directed by Don Siegel and based mostly on a brief story by Ernest Hemingway that additionally starred Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes and, in what turned out to be his final film, Ronald Reagan.

In 1969 he performed a mechanic in “Profitable,” a movie about auto racing with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. He performed an older man who has a fling together with his lover’s lovely daughter in “The Final Image Present,” Peter Bogdanovich’s celebrated 1971 research of a fading Texas city.

He was additionally in additional lowbrow fare, just like the Keenen Ivory Wayans blaxploitation parody “I’m Gonna Git You, Sucka” (1988) and the horror movies “The Return of the Residing Lifeless” and “A Nightmare on Elm Avenue 2” (each 1985).

His film work continued nicely into his later years, together with roles within the impartial productions “Tangerine” (2015) and “Blue Jay” (2016). His last display screen look was a as a bookstore clerk in Quentin Tarantino’s “As soon as Upon a Time … in Hollywood” (2019).

Mr. Gulager left the forged of “The Virginian” in 1968 to deal with directing and educating. (The present remained on the air till 1971, turning into the third-longest-running western in tv historical past, after “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza.”) His directing profession foundered after the quick movie “A Day With the Boys” in 1969, however he grew to become a well-liked trainer, working a workshop that centered on horror movie appearing and directing.

“I inform the younger college students in my class that what we do is as vital because the work of a person who grows the wheat, the physician who saves lives, the architect who builds houses,” he mentioned in an ABC information launch earlier than he starred within the TV film “Stickin’ Collectively” in 1978. “What we do, in our greatest moments, is present humanity with meals for the spirit.”

William Martin Gulager was born in Holdenville, Okla., on Nov. 16, 1928. He typically mentioned that he was half Cherokee; the identify Clu got here from “clu-clu,” a Cherokee phrase for the birds, recognized in English as martins, that have been nesting on the Gulager house.

His father, John Delancy Gulager, was an actor and vaudevillian who grew to become a county choose in Muskogee, Okla., and who taught him appearing from a younger age, nicely earlier than he graduated from Muskogee Central Excessive Faculty. His mom, Hazel Opal (Griffin) Gulager, labored on the native V.A. Hospital for 35 years.

Mr. Gulager served stateside within the Marines from 1946 to 1948 earlier than learning drama at Northeastern State Faculty in Oklahoma and Baylor College in Waco, Texas. He continued his training in Paris, the place he studied with the actor Jean-Louis Barrault and the mime Etienne Decroux.

He married Miriam Byrd-Nethery, they usually acted in summer time inventory and college theater. In 1955 each have been in a manufacturing of the play “A Totally different Drummer” on the tv sequence “Omnibus.” He continued appearing in New York till 1958, when the Gulagers and their toddler son, John, moved to Hollywood.

Mr. Gulager’s spouse died in 2003. Apart from his son John, survivors embody one other son, Tom, and a grandson.

John Gulager is a director of horror films, notably the gory “Feast” (2005), which starred Henry Rollins and Balthazar Getty. That movie and its two tongue-in-cheek sequels additionally featured the older Mr. Gulager as a shotgun-toting bartender battling fanged monsters in a Midwestern tavern. The second “Feast” film was much more of a household affair.

“You realize, there are three generations of Gulagers on this film,” John Gulager informed the weblog horror-movies.ca in an interview. One among them, named after Clu the elder, was Clu Gulager’s toddler grandson.

“He was 11 months outdated after we filmed it,” John Gulager added. “My dad mentioned, ‘We’ve to get Child Clu’s profession began now.’ ”

Christine Chung contributed reporting.

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