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Clifton James as Sheriff J.W. Pepper
|Born||George Clifton James
May 29, 1920
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
|Died||April 15, 2017
Gladstone, Oregon, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Donna Lea Beach (1948–1950)
Laurie Harper (1951–2015)
George Clifton James (May 29, 1920 – April 15, 2017) was an American actor, best known for his roles as Sheriff J.W. Pepper alongside Roger Moore in the James Bond films Live and Let Die (1973) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), the sheriff in Silver Streak (1976), a Texas tycoon in The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977), and as the owner of the scandalous 1919 Chicago White Sox baseball team in Eight Men Out (1988).
James was born in Spokane, Washington, the son of Grace (née Dean), a teacher, and Harry James, a journalist. He grew up in Oregon, in the Gladstone area of Clackamas County. James was a decorated World War II United States Army veteran. He served as an Infantry Platoon Sergeant with Co. "A" 163rd Inf., 41st Div. He served forty-two months in the South Pacific, from January 1942 until August 1945. He spent time in Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippines. His decorations include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.
James became well known for playing the comic-relief role of Louisiana Sheriff J.W. Pepper in the James Bond films Live and Let Die (1973) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). He also played a very similar character in both Silver Streak (1976) and Superman II (1980), and had a more serious role in The Reivers (1969). In that last movie, opposite Steve McQueen, James played a mean, corrupt, bungling country sheriff.
James was the district attorney who prosecutes Al Capone in the film The Untouchables (1987). He played a Navy master-at-arms in The Last Detail (1973) starring Jack Nicholson, and Chicago White Sox baseball team owner Charles Comiskey in the true story Eight Men Out (1988), a drama about the corrupt 1919 Chicago White Sox.
Despite being a lifelong New Yorker (and an Actors Studio member of long standing), James was cast as a Southerner in many of his roles, such as his appearances in the James Bond films, and as powerful Houston lawyer Striker Bellman in the daytime soap opera Texas from 1981 to 1982.
He was a Southern character as the penitentiary's floor-walker in the Paul Newman film Cool Hand Luke (1967), and again as Sheriff Lester Crabb, a temporary one-off replacement for regular Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best) in the second season Dukes of Hazzard episode "Treasure of Hazzard" (1980).
James appeared on 13 episodes of the sitcom Lewis & Clark in 1981–1982. Other television credits include the 1976 private-eye drama City of Angels and the miniseries Captains and the Kings (1976). He appeared in two episodes of The A-Team: as murderous prison warden Beale in the first-season episode "Pros and Cons" (1983), and as corrupt Sheriff Jake Dawson in the second season's "The White Ballot" (1983). In 1996, he played the role of "Red Kilgreen" on the ABC daytime drama series, All My Children. James also played the train passenger "Wilkes" on the Gunsmoke episode "Snow Train" (1970).
His other film roles include those of a wealthy Montana land baron whose cattle are being rustled in Rancho Deluxe (1975), and as the source who tips off a newspaperman (Bruce Willis) to a potentially explosive story in The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). James was featured a number of times by writer-director John Sayles in such films as Lone Star (1996) and Sunshine State (2002).
James' last known film appearance was in Raising Flagg (2006), although he had been cast in a starring role to appear in the feature film Old Soldiers, playing a true-to-life elderly veteran of World War II. Production on that film was halted in 2016.
James married twice: to Donna Lea Beach, from 1948 to 1950, with whom he had one child; and to Laurie Harper, from 1951 until her death in 2015, with whom he had five children. He resided in Gladstone, Oregon, and died from complications of diabetes on April 15, 2017, aged 96.
- The Strange One (1957) as Colonel Ramsey
- The Last Mile (1959) as Harris
- Something Wild (1961) as Detective Bogart
- Experiment in Terror (1962) as Capt. Moreno
- David and Lisa (1962) as John
- Black Like Me (1964) as Eli Carr
- Invitation to a Gunfighter (1964) as Tuttle
- The Chase (1966) as Lem Brewster
- The Happening (1967) as O'Reilly
- The Caper of the Golden Bulls (1967) as Philippe
- Cool Hand Luke (1967) as Carr
- Will Penny (1967) as Catron
- The Reivers (1969) as Butch Lovemaiden
- ...tick...tick...tick... (1970) as D.J. Rankin
- WUSA (1970) as Speed - Sailor in Bar
- The Biscuit Eater (1972) as Mr. Eben
- The New Centurions (1972) as Whitey
- Kid Blue (1973) as Mr. Hendricks
- Live and Let Die (1973) as Sheriff J.W. Pepper
- The Werewolf of Washington (1973) as Attorney General
- The Iceman Cometh (1973) as Pat McGloin
- The Last Detail (1973) as M.A.A.
- The Laughing Policeman (1973) as Officer Jim Maloney SFPD Bomb Squad
- Bank Shot (1974) as Streiger
- Buster and Billie (1974) as Jake
- Juggernaut (1974) as Corrigan
- The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) as Sheriff J.W. Pepper
- Rancho Deluxe (1975) as John Brown
- Friendly Persuasion (1975) as Sam Jordan
- The Deadly Tower (1975) as Captain Fred Ambrose
- From Hong Kong with Love (1975) as Bill
- Silver Streak (1976) as Sheriff Chauncey
- The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977) as Sy Orlansky
- Caboblanco (1980) as Lorrimer
- Superman II (1980) as Sheriff
- Talk to Me (1984) as State Trooper
- Kidco (1984) as Orville Peterjohn
- Stiffs (1985) as Uncle Leo
- Where Are the Children? (1986) as Chief Coffin
- The Untouchables (1987) as District Attorney (uncredited)
- Whoops Apocalypse (1988) as Maxton S. Pluck
- Eight Men Out (1988) as Charles 'Commie' Comiskey
- Walter & Carlo i Amerika (1989) as Tex
- She-Devil (1989) as Bob's Father (uncredited)
- The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) as Albert Fox
- Lone Star (1996) as Hollis
- Interstate 84 (2000) as Buddy
- Sunshine State (2002) as Buster Bidwell
- Raising Flagg (2006) as Ed McIvor
- "Clifton James Biography (1921-)". FilmReference.com. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
- Turnquist, Kristi (April 16, 2017). "Clifton James, veteran of James Bond movies and 'Cool Hand Luke,' dies in Gladstone at 96". The Oregonian/OregonLive. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- Ridler, Keith (April 15, 2017). "Clifton James, sheriff in 2 James Bond films, dies at 96". Bluefield Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on April 17, 2017. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
- Actors Studio Recordings, 1956-1969, University of Wisconsin–Madison
- Clifton James, Sheriff in James Bond Films, Dies at 96 Variety, April 15, 2017
- Clifton James on IMDb
- Clifton James at the TCM Movie Database
- Clifton James at the Internet Broadway Database
- Clifton James at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Clifton James at the University of Wisconsin–Madison's Actors Studio audio collection
- Clips from Texas episodes
- Clifton James(Aveleyman)
- Clifton James at Find a Grave