Clifton James

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For the impersonator of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, see M. E. Clifton James.
Clifton James
Born (1921-05-29) May 29, 1921 (age 95)
Spokane, Washington, United States
Years active 1954–present
Spouse(s) Donna Lea Beach (1948–1950)
Laurie Harper (1951–present)
Children 6

George Clifton James (born May 29, 1921) is 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), and as the owner of the scandalous 1919 Chicago White Sox baseball team in Eight Men Out (1988).

Early life[edit]

James was born in Spokane, Washington, the son of Grace (née Dean), a teacher, and Harry James, a journalist.[1] James is a decorated World War II veteran, U.S. Army Combat Infantry Platoon Sergeant 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: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Infantry Badge and six battle stars.[citation needed]


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 Superman II and Silver Streak, and a more serious sheriff in The Reivers.

James was the district attorney who prosecutes Al Capone in the 1987 film The Untouchables. He played a Navy Master at Arms in 1973's The Last Detail starring Jack Nicholson and Chicago White Sox baseball team owner Charles Comiskey in the 1988 true story Eight Men Out, a drama about the corrupt 1919 Chicago White Sox.

Despite being a lifelong New Yorker (and an Actors Studio member of long standing),[2] James has been cast as a Southerner in many of his roles, like his appearances in the James Bond films, and also powerful Houston lawyer Striker Bellman in the daytime soap opera Texas from 1981–82.

He was a Southern character as the penitentiary's floor-walker in the Paul Newman film Cool Hand Luke, 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). In the 1969 film The Reivers, opposite Steve McQueen, James played a mean, corrupt bungling country sheriff, a basic warmup for his more lovable Sheriff J. W. Pepper in Live and Let Die.

James appeared on 13 episodes of the sitcom Lewis & Clark in 1981–82. Other television credits include the miniseries Captains and the Kings (1976), and 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 that of a wealthy Montana land baron whose cattle are being rustled in 1975's Rancho Deluxe and as the source who tips off a newspaperman (Bruce Willis) to a potentially explosive story in The Bonfire of the Vanities. James has been featured a number of times by writer-director John Sayles, most recently in Lone Star (1996) and Sunshine State (2002).

Personal life[edit]

He resides in Gladstone, Oregon. He has six children, fourteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Selected filmography[edit]


External links[edit]