Tuesday, December 15, 2009
RIP Val Avery
Val Avery, whose craggy features and threatening aura ensured him nearly 50 years of work playing tough guys on both sides of the law in dozens of television series and films like "Hud," "Hombre" and several directed by John Cassavetes, died Saturday, December 12 at his home in Greenwich Village. He was 85. The death was confirmed by his daughter, Margot Avery.
Mr. Avery, who started out in live television and broke into film in "The Harder They Fall" (1956), Humphrey Bogart's last movie, found a rewarding niche playing cops, thugs, Mafia kingpins and mean bosses, although in "The Magnificent Seven," John Sturges's classic 1960 western, he appeared as a traveling corset salesman. Mr. Avery played the Mafia psychopath Socks Parelli in the Sidney Lumet caper film "The Anderson Tapes" (1971) and the Mafia godfather who cuts off Eric Roberts's thumb in "The Pope of Greenwich Village" (1984). He also made frequent guest appearances on "The Fugitive," "Gunsmoke," "Columbo" and other television series. In all, he made more than a hundred films and appeared on television more than 300 times in series and dramas. "In the early years, there were times when it was rough, times when I thought of packing it in, and then a job would open up," he told The Daily News in 1999. "And it would lead to another and another and another, until I had a career and a life."
Mr. Avery was born Sebouh Der Abrahamian on July 14, 1924, in Philadelphia. He acted in productions of the Armenian Youth Theater and, after serving as an Army flight instructor during World War II, enrolled in the Bessie V. Hicks School of Drama in Philadelphia. In 1953, he married the actress Margot Stevenson, who survives him, along with their daughter.
Val Avery ppeared as the judge in the 2002 Euro-western “Blueberry” (aka Renegade)