Clifton James


1921-2017. New York City, New York

In the '70s, American actor Clifton James became the foremost film impersonator of Southern redneck sheriffs -- but he had to go to England to do it. A graduate of the Actors Studio, James secured small roles in such Manhattan-filmed productions as On the Waterfront (1954) and in well over 100 TV programs. But his parts were tiny and frequently unbilled, relegating James to the ranks of "Who is that?" character actors. All this changed when James was cast as Sheriff Pepper in the James Bond film Live and Let Die (1973), which led to a reprise of the character in the next Bond epic The Man With the Golden Gun (1973). Since that time, the stocky, ruddy-cheeked James has been prominent in such films as Silver Streak (1976), The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977) and Superman II (1980). In 1981, James was a regular on the brief TV sitcom Lewis and Clark. James kicked off the '90s as one of the willing but floundering cast members of that disaster of disasters, Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). He continued working in small roles through the rest of his life. James died in 2017, at age 96.