G. D. Spradlin

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G. D. Spradlin
Gervase Duan Spradlin

(1920-08-31)August 31, 1920
DiedJuly 24, 2011(2011-07-24) (aged 90)
Alma materUniversity of Oklahoma
Years active1966–1999
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Nell Spradlin
(1944–2000; her death),
Frances Hendrickson
(2002–2011; his death)

Gervase Duan Spradlin (August 31, 1920 – July 24, 2011) was an American actor. Known for his distinctive accent and voice, he often played devious authority figures. He is credited in over 70 television and film productions, and performed with actors such as Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Garner, Charlton Heston, George C. Scott, and Johnny Depp.

Early life[edit]

Spradlin was born August 31, 1920, in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. His parents both worked as schoolteachers. Spradlin obtained his bachelor's degree in Education from the University of Oklahoma. He was a member of the Delta Chi fraternity. He then served in the United States Army Air Force during World War II, where he was stationed in China.[1]

Following World War II, Spradlin returned to the University of Oklahoma, where he completed a law degree in 1948.[1] He first began his career as an attorney working in Venezuela and then became an independent oil producer forming Rouge Oil Company.[1] Before he turned to acting, he was active in local politics, and he campaigned for John F. Kennedy in 1959. He joined the Oklahoma Repertory Theatre in 1964.[2]


A notable break for Spradlin resulted from his work in television in the 1960s. Fred Roos had cast Spradlin in television shows such as I Spy (as the immediate superior of Pentagon spies Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott in the episode "Tonia"), Mannix (in an uncredited role as Senator Sid Abernathy in the episode "Turn Every Stone"), and in the 1966 episode "Gomer Pyle Super Chef" as visiting Colonel Driscoll who had a very southern accent and loved Gomer's southern cooking from the mess hall Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.. Spradlin portrayed Commander Maurice E. "Germany" Curts, Communications Officer, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in an uncredited role in Tora! Tora! Tora! in 1970. He was also in the counter-culture film Zabriskie Point (1970). He worked with Jack Webb on the series Dragnet, playing multiple roles from a safecracker to a low-level con man.[3]

When Roos co-produced The Godfather Part II, he recommended Spradlin to play the role of Pat Geary, a corrupt U.S. senator from Nevada,[2] and he played a senator in the 1976 TV miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man Book II. Among his film credits are One on One (1977) (as an authoritarian basketball coach) and Apocalypse Now (as General Corman, the somber officer who assigns Martin Sheen's character to the search mission).[2] He played the head football coach B.A. Strother in North Dallas Forty (1979), "Carolina Military Institute" commandant General Durrell in the 1983 movie The Lords of Discipline, a conspirator in the attempted assassination of a state governor in Nick of Time, a minister in Ed Wood, and the president of the United States in The Long Kiss Goodnight.[3]

In 1984, Spradlin played a villainous Southern sheriff in Tank. In 1985, Spradlin turned in a memorable performance as President Lyndon B. Johnson in the mini-series Robert Kennedy and His Times, based on the book of the same name written by presidential historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. In 1986, he again portrayed an American president when he played Andrew Jackson in the 1986 television movie “Houston: The Legend of Texas”, also in 1986, he starred in the miniseries Dream West. In 1988, he played Admiral Raymond A. Spruance in the miniseries War and Remembrance. In 1989, Spradlin played a small role in the film The War of the Roses as a divorce lawyer, with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.[1]

Spradlin retired from acting after Dick (1999), in which he played Ben Bradlee.[1] He reprised his role as Pat Geary in Electronic Arts' video game adaptation of The Godfather Part II in 2009.

Spradlin also played the role of Bishop Dyer in a TV adaption of the 1912 novel Riders of the Purple Sage.


Spradlin died of natural causes at his cattle ranch in San Luis Obispo, California on July 24, 2011 at the age of 90. His first wife, Nell, with whom he had two daughters, died in 2000. He was survived by his second wife, Frances Hendrickson, whom he married in 2002.[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1967 Will Penny Anse Howard
1969 Number One Doctor Tristler
1969 Hell's Angels '69 Detective
1970 Zabriskie Point Lee's Associate
1970 Tora! Tora! Tora! Cmdr. Maurice E. Curts - Kimmel's Communications Officer Uncredited
1970 Monte Walsh Hal Henderson
1971 The Hunting Party Sam Bayard
1972 The Only Way Home Philip
1974 The Godfather Part II Senator Pat Geary
1977 One on One Coach Moreland Smith
1977 MacArthur General Eichelberger
1978 Maneaters Are Loose! Gordon Hale
1979 Apocalypse Now General Corman
1979 North Dallas Forty B. A. Strothers
1980 The Formula Arthur Clements
1982 Wrong Is Right Jack Philindros
1983 The Lords of Discipline Gen. Bentley Durrell
1984 Tank Sheriff Buelton
1986 Dream West Gen. Steven Watts Kearney TV Mini-Series, 2 episodes
1989 The War of the Roses Harry Thurmont
1994 Clifford Parker Davis
1994 Ed Wood Reverend Lemon
1995 Canadian Bacon R. J. Hacker
1995 Nick of Time Mystery Man
1996 The Long Kiss Goodnight President
1999 Dick Ben Bradlee (final film role)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g McLellan, Dennis (July 26, 2011). "G.D. Spradlin dies at 90; veteran character actor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Martin, Douglas (July 27, 2011). "G.D. Spradlin, Prolific Character Actor, Dies at 90". The New York Times. p. B17. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Wilonsky, Robert (July 27, 2011). "A Fond Farewell to G.D. Spradlin, Once the Coach of the North Dallas Bulls". Unfair Park. Dallas, TX: Dallas Observer. Retrieved July 27, 2011.

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