James Stewart Tolkan
June 20, 1931
|Education||University of Iowa|
Eastern Arizona College
|Years active||1960–2015, 2021|
James Stewart Tolkan (born June 20, 1931) is an American actor. He is best known for his roles as Mr. Strickland in Back to the Future (1985) and Back to the Future Part II (1989), and as Marshal Strickland in Back to the Future Part III (1990). Other memorable film roles include Love and Death (1975), Top Gun (1986), Masters of the Universe (1987) and Dick Tracy (1990).
He attended the University of Iowa, Coe College, the Actors Studio and Eastern Arizona College. Tolkan served in the U.S. Navy onboard the USS Sandoval, but he had an issue with his heart; within a year, he was discharged for medical reasons.
Tolkan is known for his role in the 1985 film Back to the Future as the strict Hill Valley High School principal, Gerald Strickland; the character refers to Marty McFly, his father, and Biff Tannen derisively as "slackers". He reprised the role in the 1989 sequel Back to the Future Part II, in which unnamed gang members make a drive-by assault on him in a dystopian 1985; he also refers to these criminals as "slackers" as he shoots back. In 1990, he played the part of Mr. Strickland's grandfather Chief Marshal James Strickland in Back to the Future Part III. James Tolkan would again reprise his role as Strickland, and the character's ancestors and descendants, in the 1991 animated series spin-off.
Other well-known roles include an FBI agent in WarGames and Stinger, the no-nonsense commanding officer of USS Enterprise's embarked F-14 squadron in the 1986 box-office hit Top Gun. He portrayed the role of cold and determined District Attorney Polito in Sidney Lumet's Prince of the City. He played the obsequious and evasive union treasurer Lou Brackman in 1986’s Armed and Dangerous. He appeared in the 1987 film Masters of the Universe as Detective Lubic. He had a dual role in the Woody Allen comedy Love and Death, playing both Napoleon and a look-alike. He appeared as Big Boy Caprice's accountant "Numbers" in the 1990 Warren Beatty film Dick Tracy. He appeared in Serpico (1973) in a small but notable role as a policeman who loudly accuses Officer Serpico of having a homosexual encounter with another policeman in a men's room.
Tolkan has made guest appearances on many TV shows, including Naked City, Remington Steele, Miami Vice and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. A member of the repertory cast of A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001–02), he played more than a dozen varied roles in the A&E TV series and also directed two episodes ("Die Like a Dog" and "The Next Witness").
|1960||Naked City (TV series)||Evan Humboldt||"The Man Who Bit a Diamond in Half"|
|1962||Armstrong Circle Theatre (TV series)||Stefan Malwitz||"The Man Who Refused to Die"|
|1966||The Three Sisters||Unknown|
|1969||N.Y.P.D.||Unknown||"The Night Watch"|
|1971||They Might Be Giants||Mr. Brown|
|1973||The Friends of Eddie Coyle||The Man's Contact Man|
|The Werewolf of Washington||Dark Glasses|
|Serpico||Lieutenant Steiger||credited as James Tolkin|
|1975||Love and Death||Napoleon Bonaparte|
|1979||The Amityville Horror||The Coroner|
|1981||Wolfen||"Baldy", Medical Examiner|
|Prince of the City||District Attorney Polito|
|Author! Author!||Lieutenant Glass|
|1983||American Playhouse (TV series)||Billy||Episode: "Wings"|
|WarGames||FBI Agent George Wigan|
|Nightmares||Voice of The Bishop||(segment) "The Bishop of Battle"|
|The River||Howard Simpson|
|Hill Street Blues||Coach Beasley||"Queen for a Day"|
|Back to the Future||Principal Gerald Strickland|
|Walls of Glass||Turner|
|1985–1986||Mary (TV series)||Lester Mintz|
|1985–1987||Remington Steele (TV series)||Norman Keyes||"Diced Steele"|
"Bonds of Steele"
"The Steele That Wouldn't Die"
|Top Gun||Commander Tom "Stinger" Jardian|
|Armed and Dangerous||Lou Brackman|
|Little Spies||The Kennel Master|
|1987||Masters of the Universe||Detective Hugh Lubic|
|Made in Heaven||Mr. Bjornstead|
|Miami Vice||Mason Mather||"Amen ... Send Money"|
|1988||Weekend War (TV)||Dr. Alex Thompson|
|Viper||Colonel William Tansey|
|Leap of Faith (TV)||Dr. Siegel|
|Split Decisions||Benny Pistone|
|1989||The Equalizer (TV series)||Ruger||"The Visitation"|
|The Case of the Hillside Stranglers (TV)||Unknown|
|True Blood||Detective Joe Hanley|
|Second Sight||Captain Coolidge|
|Back to the Future Part II||Principal Gerald Strickland|
|Ministry of Vengeance||Colonel Freeman|
|Family Business||Judge In 2nd Trial|
|1990||Opportunity Knocks||Sal Nichols|
|Sunset Beat (TV series)||Ray Parker||"One Down, Four Up"|
|Back to the Future Part III||U.S. Marshal James Strickland|
|The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air||Dr. Oates / Dr. Bloat||"Day Damn One"|
|Trabbi Goes to Hollywood||Vince|
|Tales from the Crypt (TV series)||Sergeant McClaine||"The Trap"|
|Problem Child 2||Mr. Thorn|
|1992||Tequila and Bonetti (TV series)||Unknown||"Fetch This, Pal"|
|Sketch Artist (TV)||Lieutenant Tonelli|
|The Hat Squad (TV series)||Mike Ragland||"The Widow Marker"|
|Back to the Future (TV series)||Civil Defense Warden||"Marty McFly PFC"|
|Bloodfist IV: Die Trying||Agent Sterling|
|1993||The Wonder Years (TV series)||Coach Silva||"Hulk Arnold"|
|Boiling Point||Senior US Treasury Agent Jerry Levitt|
|1993–1994||Cobra (TV series)||Dallas Cassel|
|1994||Beyond Betrayal (TV)||Joe Maloney|
|1995||Sketch Artist II: Hands That See (TV)||Lieutenant Tonelli|
|1996||Top Gun: Fire at Will (video game)||Commander Hondo|
|Nowhere Man (TV series)||Commander Cyrus Quinn||"Heart of Darkness"|
|Underworld||Dan "Iceberg" Eagan|
|Early Edition (TV series)||Coach Phillips||"Hoops"|
|1997||Love in Ambush (TV)||Agent Price|
|The Pretender (TV series)||FBI Special Agent Korkos||"Dragon House"|
|1998||Top Gun: Hornet's Nest (video game)||Commander Hondo|
|1999||Wings: Thrill of Flight||Host|
|2001–2002||Nero Wolfe (2001 TV series)||Richard Wragg
Mr. Joseph Pitcairn
Loftus, Dog Expert
|"The Doorbell Rang"|
"Champagne for One"
"Disguise for Murder"
"Door to Death"
"Over My Dead Body"
"Death of a Doxy"
"Die Like a Dog"
"Poison à la Carte"
"Too Many Clients"
"Help Wanted, Male"
"The Silent Speaker"
|2004||Seven Times Lucky||"Dutch"|
|2006||Heavens Fall||Thomas Knight Sr.|
|2011||Leverage (TV series)||Dean Chesny||"The Cross My Heart Job"|
|2013||Phil Spector||Larry Fidler||TV film|
|2015||Bone Tomahawk||The Pianist|
|2021||Expedition: Back to the Future||Strickland / Guard||Series, season 1 episode 1|
- "Miss Welles Wed to Actor". The New York Times. August 29, 1971.
- "James Tolkan Biography". FilmReference.com.
- "James Tolkan". Yahoo Movies. Archived from the original on August 22, 2007.
- Searls, Joel (March 23, 2021). "From gangs to the Navy and then to the theater, James Tolkan has seen it all". We Are the Mighty.
- "Tolkan Donates Scripts, Memorabilia To UNA Archives". BTTF.com. April 26, 2012. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
- "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Season 1 Episode 14". TVGuide.com. Retrieved September 16, 2018.
- "American Playhouse: Wings (TV)". The Paley Center for Media. Retrieved August 18, 2022.