James Coburn

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* August 31, 1928
- November 18, 2002

James Coburn

The charismatic and versatile James Coburn (born August 31, 1928 in Laurel, Nebraska) was an American Oscar winning actor who has shot just a few Spaghetti Western but around 160 movies. He studied acting at UCLA, and then moved to New York to study under coach Stella Adler. He continued studying after New York under Jeff Corey in Hollywood.

His breakthrough role was in The Magnificent Seven (John Sturges,1960)) where he was the knife-throwing, quick-shooting Britt and The Great Escape (John Sturges,1963) where he was casted as the Australian POW Sedgewick, with his friends Robert Vaughn and Charles Bronson. After 1966 where he was in a 007 spy spoof named Our Man Flint (Daniel Mann,1966), James Coburn released a number of unpopular movies; for example, the underrated political satire The President's Analyst (Theodore J. Flicker,1967). But in 1970, when he was cast in Sergio Leone's Duck you sucker (Fistful of Dynamite), his career got a new push and he appeared again in several strong role. These included Sam Peckinpah's great Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973) and the less famous anti-war classic Cross of Iron (1976) (which he also co-wrote). Coburn and Peckinpah remained good friends till Peckinpah's death.

Between 1983 to 1991, you can see James Coburn in just eight films because he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which severely hampered his health and work output for many years. In the 1990s, he returned to work, most notably in comedies (Sister Act), Westerns (Young Guns 2 and Maverick) and kid fare (Monsters, Inc.). In 1997 he received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for playing Nick Noltes father in Affliction. Before his death from a heart attack on 18 November 2002 in Beverly Hills, California (USA), he appeared in another 14 films. With his strong physical presence, he was one of the best actors ever.


Good to know

  • His passions included martial arts (he was one of the pallbearers at Bruce Lee's funeral), card playing and enjoying fine Cuban cigars!
  • He and Bruce Lee wanted to make a film together in India but Bruce Lee's surprising death stopped the project.
  • He is buried below a bench in Westwood Memorial Park in Westwood, California, U.S.A. not far from the campus of U.C.L.A.

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