Gulager in 2015
|Born||William Martin Gulager
November 16, 1928
Holdenville, Hughes County
|Spouse(s)||Widower of Miriam Byrd Nethery Gulager (died 2003)|
Clu Gulager (born November 16, 1928) is an American television and film actor and director, particularly noted for his co-starring role as William H. Bonney (Billy the Kid) in the 1960–1962 NBC television series The Tall Man and for his role as Emmett Ryker in another NBC western series, The Virginian.
He also appeared in Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show and the racing film Winning, with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Gulager was the protagonist Burt Wilson in the cult horror film The Return of the Living Dead, starred in McQ with John Wayne, and in director Don Siegel's The Killers with Lee Marvin, Ronald Reagan and Angie Dickinson. Gulager's short film A Day with the Boys was nominated for the prestigious Palme d'Or for best short film at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival.
Gulager was born William Martin Gulager on November 16, 1928, in Holdenville in Hughes County in east central Oklahoma, the son of John Delancy Gulager, who had been an actor before settling down to practice law in Muskogee, Oklahoma.[a] His paternal grandmother, Martha Schrimsher Gulager, was a sister of Mary Scrimshaw, the mother of the noted Oklahoma entertainer and newspaperman, Will Rogers, making Gulager and Rogers first cousins, once removed. He has Cherokee Native American ancestry. His nickname was given to him by his father for the clu-clu birds (known in English as martins, like his middle name) that were nesting at the Gulager home at the time Clu was born. From 1946-48 Gulager served in the United States Marine Corps. After attending Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Gulager transferred to Baptist-affiliated Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He won a one-year scholarship to study abroad, where he worked under Jean Louis Barrault, an internationally known French actor and director. In 1952 he returned to Baylor. That same year he married a young singer named Miriam Nethery.
In 1958 Gulager appeared as Roy Carter in the episode "The Return of Roy Carter" (written by Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek fame) in the western television series Have Gun-Will Travel starring Richard Boone. In the spring of 1959 Gulager appeared as Tommy Pavlock in the episode "The Immigrant" of NBC's series The Lawless Years, a 1920s crime drama. In the fall of 1959 he appeared in the episode "The Temple of the Swinging Doll" of NBC's short-lived espionage drama Five Fingers, starring David Hedison.
On June 3, 1959, Gulager guest-starred as the unscrupulous photographer Elliott Garrison in "The Andrew Hale Story" on NBC's Wagon Train, with John McIntire in the lead in this episode before he was named two years later as Ward Bond's successor on the popular series. This Andrew Hale is a minister mistakenly on the run who is found dying in the desert. He soon displays great knowledge of healing and spiritual matters and restores the faith of many on the wagon train. James Best also appears in this episode in the role of Garth English.
On October 11, 1959, Gulager appeared as a U.S. Navy sailor in the "Appointment at Eleven" episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and again as an escaped convict in "Pen Pal" on November 1, 1960. On The Untouchables, he played the role of real-life vicious mob killer Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll. Gulager was hailed for his utterly chilling performance as the psychopathic Coll.
Late in 1959 he was cast as Beau Chandler in the episode "Jessie Quinn" of the NBC western series Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin and Burt Reynolds. The episode is a tale of intrigue involving the Texas Revolution. Capt. Holden attempts to send weapons to Sam Houston, but forces of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in Mexico threaten to blow up Holden's vessel, the Enterprise. Mercedes McCambridge is cast in the title role, with Kevin Hagen as John Hollister.
From 1960-62 Gulager played Billy the Kid in The Tall Man opposite Barry Sullivan as Sheriff Pat Garrett. The episodes portray Billy as a sympathetic character without resorting to the "misunderstood young man" theme used in such films as The Outlaw and The Left Handed Gun. In 1961 Gulager guest-starred in another NBC western, Whispering Smith, Audie Murphy's only attempt at series television.
Gulager portrayed Deputy Sheriff Emmett Ryker from 1964-68 on The Virginian, the 90-minute western series in which he starred with James Drury, Doug McClure, Lee J. Cobb, Roberta Shore, Randy Boone, Gary Clarke and Diane Roter. Gulager appeared more than 60 times in other roles in film and television, including the film Winning and the CBS series Three for the Road. He also appeared several times on NBC's Bonanza. He starred with Lee Marvin, Ronald Reagan, John Cassavetes and Angie Dickinson in The Killers, teaming with Marvin as a pair of ruthless hit men.
He appeared notably in The Last Picture Show (1971), along with Cybill Shepherd and Ellen Burstyn. In 1977, long after his role on The Virginian, he appeared in Rod Taylor's unsuccessful NBC western series, The Oregon Trail, in the episode "The Army Deserter". Gulager also played the boss of Susan Sarandon in a 1977 film drama, The Other Side of Midnight. In 1981, he co-starred opposite Oscar Award-winner Jane Wyman, along with some newer younger actors Lorenzo Lamas, William R. Moses and Jamie Rose, in the pilot episode of The Vintage Years (which was retooled as the prime-time soap opera: Falcon Crest) for the male lead role of Angela Channing's long-suffering nephew, Chase Gioberti, when he wasn't rehired to continue with his role, hence, Robert Foxworth, took over the role, until his firing in 1987. He also appeared in his son John Gulager's Feast series of films as a shotgun-toting bartender, and had a role in the 2012 film Piranha 3DD. He was also a featured player in director John Landis' darkly comedic 1985 film noir satire, Into The Night, a film rife with insider Hollywood cameos, as an FBI agent, courier of a cache of clandestine funds, which he grudgingly delivers to secure the safety of the film's two romantic leads (Michelle Pfeiffer and Jeff Goldblum). In an example of the film's dry humor, their characters find they are not in a position to object as the agent/courier (Gulager) angrily pilfers as many packets of bills from the treasure trove as he can resentfully stuff into his pockets in plain sight of them, before leaving the bewildered pair in a huff.
TV and filmography
- Playhouse 90 (TV series) (1959)
- Have Gun - Will Travel (TV series) (1959)
- Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse (TV series) (1959)
- Laramie (TV series) (1959)
- The Untouchables (TV series) (1959)
- Wanted: Dead or Alive (TV series) episode "Crossroads" (1959)
- The Rebel (TV series) as Virgil Taber in "Paint a House with Scarlet" (1960)
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents (TV series) (1959–1960)
- The Tall Man (TV series) (1960–1962)
- The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962)
- Kraft Suspense Theatre (TV series) (1964)
- Dr. Kildare (TV series) (1964)
- Wagon Train (TV series) (1959–1964)
- The Killers (1964) (director Don Siegel)
- The Virginian (TV series) (1968)
- San Francisco International Airport (TV Series) (1970)
- The Last Picture Show (1971) (director Peter Bogdanovich)
- The F.B.I. (TV series) (1971)
- Bonanza (TV series) (1972)
- Mod Squad (TV series) (1972)
- The Glass House (ABC TV film) (1972)
- Call To Danger (CBS TV film) (1973)
- Kung Fu (TV series) (1973)
- Ironside (TV series) (1968–1973)
- McQ (1974)
- Hit Lady (1974)
- Shaft (TV series) (1974)
- McCloud (TV series) (1975)
- Cannon (TV series) (1971–1975)
- The Streets of San Francisco (TV series) (1975)
- Police Story (TV series) (1974–1975)
- Ellery Queen (TV series) (1976)
- Barnaby Jones (TV series) (1973–1976)
- Hawaii Five-O (TV series) (1972–1976)
- The Other Side of Midnight (1977)
- The MacKenzies of Paradise Cove (TV series) (1979)
- A Force of One (1979)
- Kenny Rogers as The Gambler (TV film) (1980)
- Falcon Crest (TV series) (1981)
- Skyward (1980)
- Quincy M.E. (TV series) (1982)
- CHiPs (TV series) (1982)
- Living Proof: The Hank Williams Jr. Story (1983)
- The Master (TV series) (1984)
- Knight Rider (TV series) (1985)
- Into the Night (1985)
- The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
- A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
- Bridge Across Time (1985)
- Airwolf (TV series) (1986)
- Magnum P.I. (TV series) (1986)
- The Fall Guy (TV series) (1982–1986)
- Simon & Simon (TV series) (1986)
- Hunter's Blood (1986)
- From a Whisper to a Scream (originally titled The Offspring, 1987)
- Murder She Wrote (TV series) (1985–1987)
- The Hidden (1987)
- Hunter's Blood (1987)
- Tapeheads (1988)
- MacGyver (TV series) (1988)
- I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
- Eddie Presley (1992)
- Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter (1994)
- Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (TV Series) (1995)
- Beavis and Butt-Head (TV Series) (1995)
- Walker Texas Ranger (1995)
- Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (1996)
- Feast (2005)
- Vic (2006) (short film)
- Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds (2008)
- Feast III: The Happy Finish (2009)
- Piranha 3DD (2012)
- Tangerine (2015)
Awards and nominations
- The Virginian (TV series) (1966) Bronze Wrangler Award for Best Fictional Television Drama ensemble cast
- A Day with the Boys (1969) (director, short film) Nominated Palme D'Or - Cannes Film Festival "Best Short Film"
- Hunter's Blood (1986) Nominated Saturn Award "Best Supporting Actor"
-  Imdb Awards
- Michener, Judith "Gulager, William Martin (1928 – )," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Accessed August 25, 2016.
- Clu Gulager Biography (1928–)
- "Clu" Gulager
- Conley, Robert J. A Cherokee Encyclopedia. The University of Old Mexico Press, 2007. p. 110.
- "Clu Gulager was insecure once, but not uncertain". Provo Daily Herald. January 23, 1967. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
- Clu Gulager Fan Website
- Clu Gulager at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview from psychotronicvideo.com
- Mystery Science Theater 3000, episode #908 (The Touch of Satan)
- Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture – Gulager, Clu