Friday, July 27, 2012

RIP R.G. Armstrong

R.G. Armstrong passed away in his sleep on July 27, 2012 in Studio City, California. He was 95. Born Robert Golden Armstrong on April 7, 1917 in Birmingham, Alabama. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While there he was frequently performing on stage with the Carolina Playmakers. Although his mother had hoped he would follow the ministry, ffter graduating, R.G. headed to New York, where his acting career really took off. In 1953 he, along with many of his Actor's Studio buddies, was part of the cast of "End As a Man" -- this became the first play to go from off-Broadway to Broadway. The following year, R.G. got his first taste of movies, appearing in “Garden of Eden” (1954). However, he returned to New York and the live stage. He received great reviews for his portrayal of Big Daddy in the Broadway production of "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof" in 1955. In 1958 he took the plunge to Hollywood and appeared in two movies, a TV series, and numerous guest appearances on TV shows that year, usually in westerns such as "The Rifleman" (1958), "Have Gun - Will Travel" (1957) and "Zane Grey Theater" (1956), among others. He would go on to appear in 80 movies and three TV series in his career, and guest-starred in 90 TV series, many of them westerns, often as a tough sheriff or a rugged land baron. R.G. was a regular cast member in the TV series "T.H.E. Cat" (1966), playing tough, one-handed Captain MacAllister. Although most of us remember R.G. as a regular in several Sam Peckinpah films, the younger generation knows him as spooky Lewis Vandredi, who just wouldn't let the main characters have a good night's sleep on the "Friday the 13th" (1987) TV series. Finally retiring after six successful decades in show business, his last film appearance was in the TV western film “Purgatory” (1999). Mr. Armstrong had been blind for the past few years he enjoyed listening to old radio programs and the Encore westerns channel. Armstrong received a Golden Boot award in 1999. R.G. appeared in one Euro-western as Honest John in “My Name is Nobody” (1973).


  1. so sorry to hear this...this man could play any kind of character and be totally believable...just saw him a few days ago in a 1963 Perry Mason episode where he was the lead character, a man with a checkered past who is defended by Perry, and as always, his performance was deep and mesmerizing, and suddenly in the midst of a TV show, where so often characters are stereotypes or just there to fit the contrivances of the plot, I was seeing this 3-dimensional character who could have a movie built around was an acting tour-de-force...every time I saw Mr. Armstrong on TV or in the movies, that's the effect he had...from vicious characters to the sweetest comedy, he could do it all...

    Bill Shute

  2. Hi Tom, may I ask you where you got the information on his death from?

  3. Producer Rob Word received it from a personal friend of R.G.'s named Hank Hamilton. Rob was a member of the Golden Boot Committee Both of these gentlemen and I are members in a group of western film fans named the Algonquin Cowboys. Rob sent me an e-mail regarding Mr. Armstrong's passing on July 27th.

  4. Brazilian western fans also will miss him...
    R.I.P., mister Strong Arm !

  5. Rob Word happens to be the host of the YouTube channel, "A Word On Westerns" and Tom, I know YOU were on there a few years ago. As for R.G. Armstrong, he's one of my favorite actors and when I heard that he had died, I was shocked. I was also brokenhearted because he was one of many actors I wanted to meet. He did a lot of films for Sam Peckinpah and even made a Western film with Willie Nelson called, "Red Headed Stranger". Both he AND his acting will surely be missed and he will live on as one of many of the true Hollywood legends. RIP R.G. Armstrong. You are gone but not forgotten.