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Jack Elam

Jack Elam

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Also Known As: Died: October 20, 2003
Born: November 13, 1918 Cause of Death: unspecified illness
Birth Place: Miami, Arizona, USA Profession: actor, hotel manager, accountant, theater manager

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Lean, eminently reliable veteran Hollywood player whose crookedly menacing face with its roving, sightless left eye helped him carve a niche as a villain in numerous Westerns and crime dramas since the 1950s, and later as a reliably comedic presence in his golden years. The actor's trademark cockeye was the result of a childhood fight in Phoenix after a fellow Boy Scout stabbed him in the left eye with a pencil during a scrape at a troop meeting. After working as a theater manager, hotel manager and bookkeeper and accountant for film producers including Samuel Goldwyn, Elam was given his first acting job by producer George Templeton and made his debut in "Wild Weed" (1949). He helped raise financing for the film, "The Sundowners" (1950) in exchange for an sizable acting role in the film; later a tough-guy part in 1951's "Rawhide," starring Tyrone Power, helped make him a star. He soon became a familiar face, usually playing either a heavy or a cantankerous supporting player, such as dirty old men and harmless drunks with a wry bent in comedies like "Support Your Local Sheriff" and "The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County." His more than 80 feature films include memorable performances in "High Noon"...

Lean, eminently reliable veteran Hollywood player whose crookedly menacing face with its roving, sightless left eye helped him carve a niche as a villain in numerous Westerns and crime dramas since the 1950s, and later as a reliably comedic presence in his golden years.

The actor's trademark cockeye was the result of a childhood fight in Phoenix after a fellow Boy Scout stabbed him in the left eye with a pencil during a scrape at a troop meeting. After working as a theater manager, hotel manager and bookkeeper and accountant for film producers including Samuel Goldwyn, Elam was given his first acting job by producer George Templeton and made his debut in "Wild Weed" (1949). He helped raise financing for the film, "The Sundowners" (1950) in exchange for an sizable acting role in the film; later a tough-guy part in 1951's "Rawhide," starring Tyrone Power, helped make him a star. He soon became a familiar face, usually playing either a heavy or a cantankerous supporting player, such as dirty old men and harmless drunks with a wry bent in comedies like "Support Your Local Sheriff" and "The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County." His more than 80 feature films include memorable performances in "High Noon" (1952), "The Far Country" (1955), "Kiss Me Deadly" (1955), "Once Upon a Time in the West" (1969), "Rio Lobo" (1970), "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" (1973), and "The Cannonball Run" (1980) and its 1982 sequel.

Elam appeared on over twenty episodes of "Gunsmoke" during the 1950s and 60s and was featured on the Western series, "The Dakotas" (1963), "Temple Houston" (1963-64) and "The Texas Wheelers" (1974-75), as well as several telepics based on Louis L'Amour novels and various 1990s revivals of the classic series "Bonanza." In later years he starred in such short-lived fare as the Frankenstein-inspired sit-com "Struck by Lightning" (1979), the p.i. series "Detective in the House" (1985) and the comedy "Easy Street" (1986-87) opposite Loni Anderson.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Bonanza: Under Attack (1995) Buckshot Patterson
3.
 Shadow Force (1993) Tommy
4.
 Bonanza: The Return (1993) Buckshot Patterson
5.
 Uninvited (1993) Grady
6.
 Giant of Thunder Mountain, The (1991) Hezekiah Crow (The Crow Family)
7.
 Suburban Commando (1991) Colonel Dustin "Dusty" Mchowell
8.
 Big Bad John (1990)
9.
 Hawken's Breed (1989) Tackett
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Worked as manager of Hollywood Boulevard Theatre and a Bel Air hotel
1936:
Became an accountant for Standard Oil; worked as accountant, controller, bookkeeper and independent auditor
1947:
Worked as bookkeeper for Samuel Goldwyn and controller for "Hopalong Cassidy" films (date approximate)
1949:
Film acting debut in "Wild Weed"
1963:
TV series debut, "The Dakotas"
1969:
TV movie debut, "The Over-the-Hill-Gang"
1973:
Cast in the feature "Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid"
1977:
Featured in the television mini-series "How The West Was Won"
1979:
Potrayed the character Big Mack in "The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again"
1980:
Cast in the comedy feature "The Cannon Ball Run"
1986:
Co-starred in the comedy series "Easy Street"
1993:
Had a memorable part in the television western "Bonanza"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Santa Monica Junior College: Santa Monica , California -
Modesto Junior College: Modesto , California -

Notes

Elam was described by one film critic as "the roughest, meanest, dirtiest heavy ever to cast a shadow across a movie-lot cowtown."

Lost sight in left eye due to childhood fight.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Margaret Elam. Second wife; married in 1961.

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