Clu Gulager, 'The Virginian,' 'The Last Picture Show,' 'Return of the Living Dead' Actor, Dies at 93
Clu Gulager, who built name recognition with a long stint on TV's "The Virginian" ahead of a diverse career in features, died August 5 at his son's L.A. home of natural causes.
He was 93.
Part Cherokee, Gulager was born William Martin Gulager on November 16, 1928, in Holdenville, Oklahoma, to an ex-stage actor father. He was the second cousin of American humorist Will Rogers.
A veteran of the Marines, Gulager studied acting in Paris with Jean Louis Barrault in the '50s ahead of working in the early days of live television on such programs as "Omnibus" (1955), "The United States Steel Hour" (1956), and "Studio One" (1957).
He was often cast as cowboys, such as on "Have Gun - Will Travel" (1959), "Laramie" (1959), and "The Rebel" (1960).
He played Billy the Kid on 75 episodes of "The Tall Man" (1960-1962), and had an even longer run of more than 100 episodes of "The Virginian" (1963-1968), the longest-running western after "Gunsmoke."
In spite of his propensity for western roles, Gulager appeared in a dizzying variety of features, from the noir classic "The Killers" (1964), in which his character was bumped off by Ronald Reagan, to Peter Bogdanovich's Oscar-winning "The Last Picture Show" (1971) to back-to-back horror pleasers "The Return of the Living Dead" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge" (1985).
He had an impactful role in Sean Baker's "Tangerine" (2015), about a transgender sex worker scorned, a film shot using iPhones.
Gulager closed his career with a small part in the acclaimed "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood" (2019). He had more than 160 TV and movie credits to his name.
Gulager is survived by his sons John and Tom, and his namesake grandson. He was preceded in death in 2003 by his singer-actress wife Miriam Byrd-Nethery.