J. T. Walsh

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J. T. Walsh
J.T. Walsh.jpg
BornJames Thomas Patrick Walsh
(1943-09-28)September 28, 1943
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedFebruary 27, 1998(1998-02-27) (aged 54)
San Diego, California, United States
Cause of death
Heart attack
Resting place
Cremation
OccupationActor
Years active1982-1998
 
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Not to be confused with J.D. Walsh (actor).
J. T. Walsh
J.T. Walsh.jpg
BornJames Thomas Patrick Walsh
(1943-09-28)September 28, 1943
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedFebruary 27, 1998(1998-02-27) (aged 54)
San Diego, California, United States
Cause of death
Heart attack
Resting place
Cremation
OccupationActor
Years active1982-1998

James Thomas Patrick "J.T." Walsh (September 28, 1943 – February 27, 1998) was an American character actor. He appeared in many well-known films, including Nixon, Hoffa, A Few Good Men, Backdraft, Miracle on 34th Street, Outbreak, Breakdown, Pleasantville, The Negotiator, and Good Morning, Vietnam. Walsh was known for his roles as "quietly sinister white-collar sleazeballs" (quote from Leonard Maltin) in numerous feature films, and was described as "everybody's favorite scumbag" by Playboy magazine.

Early life[edit]

Walsh was born in San Francisco, California. He had three siblings, Christopher, Patricia and Mary. From 1948 to 1962, the family lived in West Germany, before moving back to the United States. After studying at Clongowes Wood College in Ireland from 1955-1961, Walsh attended the University of Tübingen in Tübingen, Germany and then the University of Rhode Island, where he starred in many college theater productions. In 1974, he was discovered by a director and began working in off-Broadway shows.

Career[edit]

Walsh did not appear in feature films until 1983, when he had a minor role in Eddie Macon's Run. Over the next 15 years, he played in over 50 feature films, increasingly taking the bad guy role for which he is well known, such as the loudly irascible Sergeant Major Dickerson in Good Morning, Vietnam.

On television, Walsh again portrayed a consummately evil character, prison Warden Brodeur on The X Files episode, "The List" (1995). Brodeur beats a hand-cuffed inmate to death because the inmate informs Brodeur that he will be next on the list of people a former inmate has threatened to kill.

Walsh wanted to show his range as an actor and play good guy parts despite being typecast as a villain. Although he did get to play a few decent people such as the White House Chief of Staff in Outbreak and Chester Van Damme in Sniper, even those films had Walsh portray a character with an amoral streak. Walsh played a member of Majestic 12 in the 1996-1997 sci-fi/drama television series Dark Skies.

Death and Legacy[edit]

The 1997 thriller Breakdown featured Walsh as the villainous truck driver, which raised his profile to movie audiences. It was his last starring film released during his lifetime.

In his last year, he starred in the 1998 films Hidden Agenda, Pleasantville, and The Negotiator. All three movies, plus Outside Ozona were dedicated to his memory after he died from a heart attack on Friday, February 27, 1998 at the age of 54. He died while a guest of the Optimum Health Institute in Lemon Grove, California.

In addition, Jack Nicholson dedicated his Academy Award for As Good as It Gets to the memory of Walsh, with whom he had starred in A Few Good Men, and in Hoffa in 1992.

Filmography[edit]

YearFilmRoleNotes
1985Right to Kill?Maj. Eckworth
1986Hannah and Her SistersEd Smythe
PowerJerome Cate
1987Good Morning, VietnamSgt. Major Dickerson
Tin MenWing
House of GamesThe Businessman/"Cop"
1988Tequila SunriseDEA Agent Hal Maguire
1989The Big PictureAllen Habel
WiredBob Woodward
1990Crazy PeopleMr. Drucker
DefenselessSteven Seldes
MiseryState Trooper Sherman DouglasUncredited
The GriftersCole
The Russia HouseColonel Jackson Quinn
1991BackdraftAlderman Marty Swayzak
1992A Few Good MenLt. Col. Matthew Markinson
Red Rock WestWayne Brown
HoffaFrank Fitzsimmons
1993Needful ThingsDanforth 'Buster' Keeton IIINominated - Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
SniperChester Van Damme
1994The Last SeductionFrank Griffith
Miracle on 34th StreetEd Collins
Blue ChipsHappy
The ClientJason McThune
Silent FallSheriff Mitch Rivers
1995NixonJohn EhrlichmanNominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Black Day Blue NightLt. John Quinn
OutbreakWhite House Chief of StaffUncredited
1996Executive DecisionSenator Mavros
Persons UnknownLt. Cake
Sling BladeCharles BushmanNominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1997BreakdownWarren 'Red' BarrNominated - Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
1998The NegotiatorInspector Terence NiebaumThis film is dedicated to Walsh, who died before the movie's release.
PleasantvilleBig BobThis film is dedicated to Walsh, who died before the movie's release.
Hidden AgendaJonathan ZanuckThis film is dedicated to Walsh, who died before the movie's release.

External links[edit]