Saturday, July 17, 2010


James Gammon (1940-2010)

The great character actor James Gammon is another one of those performers whose name is unknown but whose face (and gravelly voice) are instantly recognizable. I had the good fortune of seeing Gammon in his Tony-nominated role as Dodge in the 1996 Broadway production of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child and he was phenomenal, especially opposite fellow nominee Lois Smith. For most people though, Gammon probably is most familiar for his role as Lou Brown in the Major League films or his role on TV's Nash Bridges.

Much of Gammon’s work took place on episodic television and in both TV and movies, many of his roles had a Western tinge to them. His first IMDb credit was an episode of The Wild, Wild West in 1966. Other TV Westerns whose paths he crossed: Bonanza, The Virginian, Lancer, The High Chaparral, The Young Riders and Gunsmoke. He also appeared in the Western miniseries The Sacketts and Streets of Laredo. On the big screen, he appeared in A Man Called Horse, Urban Cowboy, Any Which Way You Can, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, Sylvester, Silverado, The Milagro Beanfield War, Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill and Appaloosa.

Other notable television work included regular roles on the TV version of Bagdad Café, Homefront and Nash Bridges. He also had a recurring role on The Waltons, played Ulysses S. Grant in the miniseries of Gore Vidal’s Lincoln, Sam Rayburn opposite Gary Sinise’s Truman and Teddy Roosevelt on an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

Other notable film work included Macon County Line, Silver Bullet, Made in Heaven, Ironweed, I Love You to Death, Cabin Boy, The Cell, Cold Mountain and several voices in The Iron Giant.

Still, I’m grateful for his part in one of the best nights in New York I ever had. RIP Mr. Gammon.

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One fine tribute for a fine and underrated character actor, Ed. I most remember him for some of his later roles in television westerns. He was great in his supporting bit in CONAGHER. But, the one scene that immediately draws from my memory was his requiem, as Charles Goodnight, for his friend Woodrow Call in the miniseries, STREETS OF LAREDO. A clip of it is here.

It hasn't been good lately. Vonetta McGee (January 14, 1945 – July 9, 2010), and now James Gammon (April 20, 1940 – July 16, 2010). It's been a bad month. Thanks for this tribute.
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