Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remembering Jack Elam

William Scott Elam was born in Miani, Arizona on November 13, 1916. As a boy he worked in the cotton fields picking cotton. Later, he attended Santa Monica Junior College in California then became an accountant and for a time, managed the Bel Air Hotel. Losing a battle with a pencil which damaged his right eye, he obtained his first movie job by trading his accounting services for a role, and was on his way to becoming one of the greatest supporting actors in Hollywood for decades. His movie career began in 1949 and lasted into the late eighties. His most memorable films include “The Sundowners”, “The Gunfighter”, “High Noon”, “Cattle Queen of Montana”, “The Far Country”, “Gunfight At The O.K. Corral”, “The Commancheros”, “Support Your Local Sheriff”, “Rio Lobo”, “Cat Ballou”, and many more. Along the way he appeared in over 130 western films and TV appearances among which were four Euro-westerns including “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968) and “Sonora” (both 1968), “Hannie Cauler” (1970), “The Last Rebel” (1971),  and an appearance in one episode to Terence Hill’s TV series “Lucky Luke” (1991). Elam was best friends with director, screenwriter Burt Kennedy and their poker games have become legendary. Elam died of congestive heart failure on October 20, 2003 in Ashland, Oregon. Today we remember one of the greatest American character actors on what would have been his 90th birthday.

1 comment:

  1. Hard to imagine a more iconic Western film character actor -- compelling, fantastic portrayals of grim villains, grizzled old nice guys, and delightful comic characters. What a remarkable range, while remaining unmistakeably recognizeable. As a supporting actor in Westerns, only Walter Brennan -- a VERY different icon -- could compare. One of the surest signs of a great Western film is his name in the opening credits.