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Will Sampson

Will Sampson

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Also Known As: William Sampson Jr. Died: June 3, 1987
Born: September 27, 1933 Cause of Death: complications from scleroderma
Birth Place: Okmulgee, Oklahoma, USA Profession: actor, artist, narrator

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

When Michael Douglas' assistant spotted a tall Native American actor named Will Sampson at an art show, they knew they had their Chief Bromden. Douglas was producing Milos Forman's adaptation of Ken Kesey's classic novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and the 6 ' 5'' Sampson proved to be wise casting for Chief Bromden, the silent mental patient presumed to be deaf and dumb who watches as the institution is upended by the arrival of free-spirited inmate R.P. McMurphy (played memorably by Jack Nicholson). The film was released to great acclaim in 1975, collecting Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor (Nicholson), Best Director (Forman), and Best Actress (Louise Fletcher for her portrayal of the villainous Nurse Ratched). In 1976, Sampson went on to appear in the Clint Eastwood western "The Outlaw Josey Wales." Sampson then scored a recurring role on the small screen in the detective series "Vegas" from 1978 to 1981. His most notable role next to Chief Bromden may be "Taylor the Medicine Man" in "Poltergeist II," the 1986 sequel to the Spielberg-produced horror sensation of 1982. Sampson's passion did not end with acting: he founded the American Indian Registry for the Performing Arts in 1982 and was...

When Michael Douglas' assistant spotted a tall Native American actor named Will Sampson at an art show, they knew they had their Chief Bromden. Douglas was producing Milos Forman's adaptation of Ken Kesey's classic novel "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and the 6 ' 5'' Sampson proved to be wise casting for Chief Bromden, the silent mental patient presumed to be deaf and dumb who watches as the institution is upended by the arrival of free-spirited inmate R.P. McMurphy (played memorably by Jack Nicholson). The film was released to great acclaim in 1975, collecting Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor (Nicholson), Best Director (Forman), and Best Actress (Louise Fletcher for her portrayal of the villainous Nurse Ratched). In 1976, Sampson went on to appear in the Clint Eastwood western "The Outlaw Josey Wales." Sampson then scored a recurring role on the small screen in the detective series "Vegas" from 1978 to 1981. His most notable role next to Chief Bromden may be "Taylor the Medicine Man" in "Poltergeist II," the 1986 sequel to the Spielberg-produced horror sensation of 1982. Sampson's passion did not end with acting: he founded the American Indian Registry for the Performing Arts in 1982 and was an avid painter for most of his life.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Firewalker (1986) Tall Eagle
3.
 Insignificance (1985) Elevator Attendant
4.
 Fish Hawk (1981) Fish Hawk
5.
 Vega$ (1978) Harlon Two Leaf
6.
 Standing Tall (1978) Lonny Moon
7.
 Relentless (1977) Sam Watchman
8.
 White Buffalo, The (1977) Chief Crazy Horse--
9.
 Hunted Lady, The (1977) Uncle George
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Notes

He has founded and chaired the non-profit organization American Indian Registry for the Permorming Arts.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Mabel Sampson.
son:
Tim Sampson. Actor. Born c. 1956; appeared in Broadway revival of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in 2001 playing the role of Chief Bromden.
grandson:
T J Sampson. Born c. 1980.
granddaughter:
Tafv Sampson. Born c. 1990.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Contributions

Zoeescobar ( 2009-12-16 )

Source: not available

Known for his unforgettable role as Chief Bromden in the 1976 classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, William Sampson, Jr. entertained and moved audiences in numerous films, TV shows, and on stage. But his most important role was one that he played all his life – that of Indian cowboy and artist.

For the first time ever, fans and Western art enthusiasts can now experience the art and life of Will “Sonny” Sampson in a beautiful coffee table book, BEYOND CUCKOO’S NEST – THE ART AND LIFE OF WILLIAM SAMPSON, JR.

With photographs of more than 50 paintings and over 70 sketches, the originals of which are in private collections, this poignant book takes the reader on a rare and tender journey, from the three year old boy drawing in the dirt to the 6’ 5” Indian actor whose talent and charm influenced many.

“Painting is my life. I am first, last and always a painter.” Indeed, Will Sampson claimed that acting supported his painting habit.

Written and compiled by his personal assistant, Zoe Escobar, the book was a long time in the making. “After Sonny’s passing, I boxed up all the research material and sent it to a friend for safekeeping … where it languished for nearly twenty-five years.”

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