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|Also Known As:||Claude A. Akins||Died:||January 27, 1994|
|Born:||May 25, 1926||Cause of Death:||cancer|
|Birth Place:||Nelson, Georgia, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor salesman|
Husky, masculine character player of stage, film and TV, adept at playing good (and bad) ol' southern boys, ambiguous lawmen and menacing villains. Akins began his film career as a heavy, beginning with his feature debut, "From Here to Eternity" (1953). He continued this trend to varying degrees in major productions like "The Caine Mutiny" (1954), "The Defiant Ones" (1958) and "Inherit the Wind" (1960). Akins also fared well portraying rednecks and assorted varmints in numerous Westerns (Howard Hawks' "Rio Bravo" 1959, "Commanche Station" 1960).
TV tended to view the strapping actor in a more admirable light. Akins' first TV pilot was a starring vehicle called "Sam Hill" about an itinerant blacksmith of legendary strength who strode the Old West armed only with a knife and a hammer. Directed by Robert Altman, this unsold pilot was broadcast as a memorable installment of "Bonanza" (NBC, 1961). Akins continued to appear on the small screen in TV-movies, guest shots, and more busted pilots before starring as a sympathetic gypsy trucker in "Movin' On" (1974-76), a likeable series set on the roads of America. For better or worse, Akins may be best remembered for his broad portrayal of the amusingly larcenous Sheriff Elroy P. Lobo on the trucking adventure series "B.J. and the Bear" (NBC, 1979-81), its spin-off "The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo" (NBC, 1979-80) and "Lobo" (NBC, 1980-81), The last was a relatively somber revamp of the preceding slapstick "Misadventures...," moved from Orly County Georgia to the mean streets of Atlanta. The down home charm of Akins' voice remained familiar to radio and TV audiences of the late 80s and 90s due to his work as a spokesman for Aamco transmissions. He also continued to appear on TV and in the occasional film. 1992 marked the end of Akins' career in front of the camera: His final TV guest shot was as a ghost of a bumbling Western bank robber on a Joe Dante-directed episode of "Eerie, Indiana"; his last TV-movie found him playing Teddy Roosevelt in the syndicated miniseries "Sherlock Holmes: Incident at Victoria Falls"; and his farewell to features was with a supporting role in "Falling From Grace," the feature directorial debut of musician-actor John Mellencamp.
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