J. T. Walsh
J. T. Walsh
James Thomas Patrick Walsh
September 28, 1943
|Died||February 27, 1998 (aged 54)|
La Mesa, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Rhode Island|
(m. 1972; div. 1982)
James Thomas Patrick Walsh (September 28, 1943 – February 27, 1998) was an American character actor. He appeared in many films, notably Tin Men (1987), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), A Few Good Men (1992), Hoffa (1992), Nixon (1995), Sling Blade (1996), Breakdown (1997) and Pleasantville (1998).
Walsh was born in San Francisco, California, to Mary Louise (née O'Connor) and James Patrick Walsh, who were both of Irish descent. His father was a civilian comptroller in the U.S. Army. He had three siblings: Christopher, Patricia, and Mary. From 1948 until 1962, the family lived in West Germany, where Walsh's father was stationed; they lived in Munich for seven years before moving to Stuttgart.
Walsh and his brother studied at Clongowes Wood College (a Jesuit school in Ireland) from 1955 until 1961. He then attended the University of Tübingen (Walsh spoke fluent German) for a year before his father died of a brain tumour, after which he and his family moved back to the United States, settling in his mother's native Rhode Island. He completed his studies at the University of Rhode Island, where he majored in sociology and starred in many college theater productions. During this time, he was also active in SDS demonstrations against the Vietnam War.
After graduating from college in 1967, 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. Prior to becoming an actor, he also worked as a barman, an encyclopedia salesman, a junior high school teacher, a gymnasium equipment salesman, and a reporter. In 1974, he was discovered by a theater director and began working in off-Broadway shows, where he began using the initials "J. T." to avoid confusion with another stage actor named James Walsh.
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On stage, Walsh received critical acclaim for his performance as John Williamson in the 1984 U.S. premiere of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross in Chicago and subsequently on Broadway. He did not appear in films until 1983, 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".
Walsh wanted to show his range as an actor and play good guys, despite being typecast as a villain. He played relatively decent characters in Outbreak and Sniper, and also played the rather sympathetic Marine Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Markinson in A Few Good Men. He played a member of Majestic 12 in the 1996 sci-fi drama series Dark Skies. Walsh notably played real people in three films: journalist Bob Woodward in Wired, Teamsters president Frank Fitzsimmons in Hoffa, and Richard Nixon's domestic advisor John Ehrlichman in Nixon. He was fired from Loose Cannons after already doing two days of filming because his co-star Dan Aykroyd had learned of Walsh's involvement in Wired, a biopic of Aykroyd's friend John Belushi to which Aykroyd was hostile. The 1997 thriller Breakdown featured Walsh as the villainous truck driver. It was his last starring film released during his lifetime. In his final year of life, Walsh starred in Hidden Agenda, Pleasantville, and The Negotiator. All three films were dedicated to his memory.
Personal life and death
Walsh was known as "Jim" to his friends. He married Susan West in 1972 and they had a son, John Alan West (born 1974), who works in film production under the name John West. They divorced in 1982. Walsh lived in Encino, Los Angeles. He was a lifelong Democrat, and an avid reader with a strong interest in metaphysics.
A heavy smoker, Walsh died of a heart attack in the hospital in La Mesa, California on February 27, 1998 at the age of 54, after feeling ill and collapsing at the Optimum Health Institute in Lemon Grove. Just a few weeks earlier, Walsh had experienced chest pains and had an EKG test done that was misread as normal.
Walsh is invariably referred to as a character actor who specialized in villains, but that description doesn't quite do justice to what he did. The typical Walsh character was a plot device, really, serving either as a moral counterpoint to the star of the show or as an Iagolike figure egging on the hero in a way likely to lead to the protagonists's downfall. These characters were often self-important authority figures 'defending' the American establishment from the individualism represented by the movies' heroes ... or crooks who thrived by exploiting the hypocrisy of the system. Walsh didn't just make a career of playing bad guys — his performances offered a sort of running commentary on the power structure of American society.
The "Hey It’s That Guy!" feature in Fametracker was inspired by him, as he appeared in over 60 films but was not well known by name. The creators expanded upon this idea in 2005 by publishing Hey! It's That Guy!: The Fametracker.com Guide to Character Actors.
|1983||Eddie Macon's Run||Man in Bar||Film debut|
|1984||The Beniker Gang||Principal Stoddard|
|1985||Right to Kill?||Major Eckworth||TV movie|
|1985||Hard Choices||Deputy Anderson|
|1986||Hannah and Her Sisters||Ed Smythe|
|1987||House of Games||The Businessman / Cop|
|1987||Good Morning, Vietnam||Sergeant Major Phillip Dickerson|
|1988||Things Change||Hotel Manager|
|1988||Tequila Sunrise||DEA Agent Hal Maguire|
|1989||The Big Picture||Allen Habel|
|1990||Why Me?||Francis Mahoney|
|1990||Crazy People||Mr. Drucker|
|1990||Narrow Margin||Michael Tarlow|
|1990||Misery||State Trooper Sherman Douglas||Uncredited|
|1990||The Russia House||Colonel Jackson Quinn|
|1991||Iron Maze||Jack Ruhle|
|1991||Backdraft||Alderman Marty Swayzak|
|1991||True Identity||Agent Houston|
|1992||A Few Good Men||Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Andrew Markinson|
|1992||The Prom||Grover Dean|
|1993||Sniper||Colonel Chester Van Damme|
|1993||Loaded Weapon 1||Desk Clerk|
|1993||Red Rock West||Wayne Brown|
|1993||Needful Things||Danforth 'Buster' Keeton III||Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1993||Morning Glory||Sheriff Reese Goodloe|
|1993||One Little Indian||Marshall Robinson||Short|
|1994||The Last Seduction||Frank Griffith|
|1994||Blue Chips||'Happy' Kuykendall|
|1994||The Client||District Attorney Jason McThune|
|1994||Silent Fall||Sheriff Mitch Rivers|
|1994||Miracle on 34th Street||Ed Collins|
|1995||Outbreak||White House Chief of Staff||Uncredited|
|1995||The Low Life||Mike Sr.|
|1995||The Babysitter||Harry Tucker|
|1995||Black Day Blue Night||Lieutenant John Quinn|
|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||Sacred Cargo||Father Stanislav|
|1996||Executive Decision||Senator Jason Mavros|
|1996||The Little Death||Ted Hannon|
|1996||Sling Blade||Charles Bushman||Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture|
|1996||Gang in Blue||Lieutenant William Eyler|
|1997||Breakdown||Warren 'Red' Barr||Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1998||The Negotiator||Inspector Terence Niebaum||Posthumous release|
|1998||Pleasantville||Bob 'Big Bob'||Posthumous release|
|1998||Hidden Agenda||Jonathan Zanuck||Posthumous release; final film role|
|1989||L.A. Law||Pete Bostik||Episode: "Consumed Innocent"|
|1995||The X Files||Warden Brodeur||Episode: "The List"|
|1996–1997||Dark Skies||Frank Bach||19 Episodes|
- Obituary: J.T. Walsh; Actor Excelled in Malevolent Roles, latimes.com; accessed April 7, 2016.
- J. T. Walsh (1943-1998): Reflections Of A Friend; accessed September 10, 2020.
- The J.T. Walsh Supersite; accessed February 24, 2015.
- Johnston, Andrew (March 19, 1998). "American psycho". Time Out New York.
- Amazon.com: Hey! It's That Guy!: Books: Tara Ariano
Updated link: https://www.salon.com/2004/08/26/j_t_walsh/