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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: Cast ... actor hotel manager accountant theater manager
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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" (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.

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