J. T. Walsh

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Not to be confused with J.D. Walsh (actor).
J. T. Walsh
J.T. Walsh.jpg
Born James Thomas Patrick Walsh
(1943-09-28)September 28, 1943
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Died February 27, 1998(1998-02-27) (aged 54)
Lemon Grove, California, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Occupation Actor
Years active 1975–1998
Spouse(s) Susan West (m. 1972–82)
Children 1

James Thomas Patrick "J. T." Walsh (September 28, 1943 – February 27, 1998) was an American actor. He appeared in many well known films, including Nixon, Hoffa, A Few Good Men, Backdraft, Miracle on 34th Street, Outbreak, Sling Blade, Breakdown, Pleasantville, The Negotiator, and Good Morning, Vietnam. According to Leonard Maltin, he was known for portraying "quietly sinister white-collar sleazeballs" in numerous films, and was described as "everybody's favorite scumbag" by Playboy magazine.

Early life[edit]

Walsh was born in San Francisco, California. He had three siblings: Christopher, Patricia, and Mary. From 1948 to 1962, the family lived in West Germany, before moving back to the United States. After studying at Clongowes Wood College in Ireland from 1955 to 1961, Walsh attended the University of Tübingen in Tübingen, and then the University of Rhode Island, where he starred in many college theater productions. In 1974, he was discovered by a theatre director and began working in off-Broadway shows. After college Walsh worked briefly as a VISTA volunteer in Newport, Rhode Island organizing tenants for the United Tenant Organizations of Rhode Island (UTO) before resigning to pursue his acting career.


Walsh did not appear in films until 1975, when he had a minor role in Eddie Macon's Run. Over the next 15 years, he appeared in over 50 feature films, increasingly taking the bad guy role for which he is well known, such as Sergeant Major Dickerson in Good Morning, Vietnam. On television, he again portrayed an evil character, prison warden Brodeur on The X-Files in 1995 in the episode "The List". Brodeur beats a handcuffed inmate to death because the inmate informs him that he will be next on the list of people a former inmate has threatened to kill.

Walsh wanted to show his range as an actor and play good guys, despite being typecast as a villain. Although he did get to play a few decent people, such as the White House Chief of Staff in Outbreak and Chester Van Damme in Sniper, even those films had him portray a character with an amoral streak. He played a member of Majestic 12 in the 1996 sci-fi drama series Dark Skies. The 1997 thriller Breakdown featured Walsh as the villainous truck driver, which raised his profile to movie audiences. It was his last starring film released during his lifetime. In his final year of life, Walsh starred in the films Hidden Agenda, Pleasantville, and The Negotiator. All three films were dedicated to his memory.[1]


Walsh died of a heart attack in Lemon Grove, California on February 27, 1998, aged 54. Jack Nicholson dedicated his Academy Award for As Good as It Gets to Walsh's memory. The two had acted together in two films, A Few Good Men and Hoffa.[2]



Year Title Role Notes
1985 Right to Kill? Maj. Eckworth
1986 Hannah and Her Sisters Ed Smythe
1986 Power Jerome Cade
1987 Good Morning, Vietnam Sgt. Major Dickerson
1987 Tin Men Wing
1987 House of Games The Businessman / "Cop"
1988 Tequila Sunrise DEA Agent Hal Maguire
1989 The Big Picture Allen Habel
1989 Wired Bob Woodward
1990 Crazy People Mr. Drucker
1990 Defenseless Steven Seldes
1990 Narrow Margin Michael Tarlow
1990 Misery State Trooper Sherman Douglas Uncredited
1990 The Grifters Cole
1990 The Russia House Colonel Jackson Quinn
1991 True Identity Agent Houston
1991 Backdraft Alderman Marty Swayzak
1992 A Few Good Men Lt. Col. Matthew Markinson
1992 Red Rock West Wayne Brown
1992 Hoffa Frank Fitzsimmons
1993 Needful Things Danforth "Buster" Keeton III Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1993 Sniper Chester Van Damme
1994 The Last Seduction Frank Griffith
1994 Miracle on 34th Street Ed Collins
1994 Blue Chips Happy
1994 The Client Jason McThune
1994 Silent Fall Sheriff Mitch Rivers
1995 Charlie's Ghost Story Darryl
1995 Nixon John Ehrlichman Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1995 Black Day Blue Night Lt. John Quinn
1995 The Babysitter Harry Tucker
1995 Outbreak White House Chief of Staff Uncredited
1996 Executive Decision Senator Jason Mavros
1996 Persons Unknown Lt. Cake
1996 Sling Blade Charles Bushman Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1997 Breakdown Warren "Red" Barr Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1998 The Negotiator Inspector Terence Niebaum
1998 Pleasantville Big Bob
1998 Hidden Agenda Jonathan Zanuck


Year Title Role Notes
1995 The X Files Warden Brodeur Episode: "The List"
1996–1997 Dark Skies Frank Bach


  1. ^ The J.T. Walsh Supersite; accessed February 24, 2015.
  2. ^ "Oh, that guy" Salon.com; accessed February 24, 2015.

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