The legendary and unmistakable American character actor Clifton James has died of complications from diabetes at the age of 96.
James, who starred as the redneck Sheriff JW Pepper in Roger Moore's first two Bond films, Live and Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun, passed away yesterday at his childhood home in Gladstone, Oregon. Before becoming an actor, James served in the South Pacific during WWII where he was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze star and two Purple Hearts.
So popular was James' turn in the chaotic and comedic boat chase sequence in Live and Let Die that he was asked to reprise his character for the subsequent film, this time involving a car chase in Thailand and an uneasy alliance with the devil-may-care James Bond. Alongside Eunice Gayson, Richard Kiel, Robbie Coltrane, and Giancarlo Giannini, James remains one of a select number of actors who returned for a second entry as the same character in the series and the redneck sheriff became a role he made his own; appearing as similar comic relief law enforcement characters in Silver Streak in 1976 and Superman II in 1980, as well as a sheriff in an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard and The A Team. But Pepper wasn't his first sheriff; he had previously played Sheriff Butch Lovemaiden in the 1969 Steve McQueen film The Reivers.
James also appeared in films such as Juggernaut, The Untouchables, Eight Men Out, Bonfire of the Vanities, Lone Star, Sunshine State, The Last Detail, Rancho Deluxe, Cool Hand Luke, Invitation to a Gunfighter, The Chase, The Laughing Policeman, and Whoops Apocalypse. His final film credit was in 2006's Raising Flagg, but he was attached to an adaptation of David Weber's novel Old Soldiers, the production of which was halted last year due to the deaths of several of the older cast members.