Clu Gulager, a rugged character actor who appeared in critically acclaimed movies like “The Last Picture Show” 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 stated 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 Fifties and ’60s. He was seen repeatedly on “Wagon Train,” “Bonanza,” “Have Gun — Will Travel” and different reveals.
An look because the hit man Mad Dog Coll on “The Untouchables” in 1959 persuaded the author and producer Sam Peeples to solid Mr. Gulager because the legendary outlaw Billy the Kid 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 credits, during which Garrett’s lengthy shadow stretches in entrance of him.)
“He’s exactly what we were looking for, an actor with a flair for the unusual,” Mr. Peeples stated in a TV Guide profile of Mr. Gulager shortly after the present first aired in 1960. “He lends a certain psychological depth to Billy.”
The friendship between the lawman (performed by Barry Sullivan) and the gun-toting rustler was fictionalized and enormously exaggerated over the present’s 75 episodes; many historians imagine that Sheriff Garrett really 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 Nineteen 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. Although 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.
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.
“In 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 “Murder, 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 (*93*), John Cassavetes and, in what turned out to be his final film, Ronald Reagan.
In 1969 he performed a mechanic in “Winning,” a movie about auto racing with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. He performed an older man who has a fling along with his lover’s stunning daughter in “The Last Picture Show,” 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 Living Dead” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2” (each 1985).
His film work continued nicely into his later years, together with roles within the unbiased productions “Tangerine” (2015) and “Blue Jay” (2016). His closing display screen look was as a bookstore clerk in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” (2019).
Mr. Gulager left the solid of “The Virginian” in 1968 to deal with directing and instructing. (The present remained on the air till 1971, changing 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 turned a preferred instructor, operating a workshop that centered on horror movie appearing and directing.
“I tell the young students in my class that what we do is as important as the work of a man who grows the wheat, the doctor who saves lives, the architect who builds homes,” he stated in an ABC information launch earlier than he starred within the TV film “Stickin’ Together” in 1978. “What we do, in our best moments, is provide humanity with food for the spirit.”
William Martin Gulager was born in Holdenville, Okla., on Nov. 16, 1928. He usually stated that he was half Cherokee; the identify Clu got here from “clu-clu,” a Cherokee phrase for the birds, identified in English as martins, that had been nesting at the Gulager house.
His father, John Delancy Gulager, was an actor and vaudevillian who turned a county decide in Muskogee, Okla., and who taught him appearing from a younger age, nicely earlier than he graduated from Muskogee Central High School. His mom, Hazel Opal (Griffin) Gulager, labored at the native V.A. Hospital for 35 years.
Mr. Gulager served stateside within the Marines from 1946 to 1948 earlier than finding out drama at Northeastern State College in Oklahoma and Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He continued his schooling in Paris, the place he studied with the actor Jean-Louis Barrault and the mime Etienne Decroux.
He married Miriam Byrd-Nethery, and they acted in summer season inventory and college theater. In 1955 each had been in a manufacturing of the play “A 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. Besides 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 know, there are three generations of Gulagers in this movie,” John Gulager informed the weblog horror-movies.ca in an interview. One of them, named after Clu the elder, was Clu Gulager’s toddler grandson.
“He was 11 months old when we filmed it,” John Gulager added. “My dad said, ‘We have to get Baby Clu’s career started now.’ ”
Christine Chung contributed reporting.