R. G. Armstrong

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R.G. Armstrong

Armstrong in the 1960 film The Fugitive Kind
BornRobert Golden Armstrong, Jr.[1]
(1917-04-07)April 7, 1917
Pleasant Grove, Alabama, U.S.
DiedJuly 27, 2012(2012-07-27) (aged 95)
Studio City, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
OccupationActor
Years active1954–2001
SpouseAnn Neale
(m.1952-1972; 4 children)
Susan M. Guthrie
(m.1973-1976; divorced)
Mary Craven
(m.1993-2003; her death)
 
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R.G. Armstrong

Armstrong in the 1960 film The Fugitive Kind
BornRobert Golden Armstrong, Jr.[1]
(1917-04-07)April 7, 1917
Pleasant Grove, Alabama, U.S.
DiedJuly 27, 2012(2012-07-27) (aged 95)
Studio City, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
OccupationActor
Years active1954–2001
SpouseAnn Neale
(m.1952-1972; 4 children)
Susan M. Guthrie
(m.1973-1976; divorced)
Mary Craven
(m.1993-2003; her death)

Robert Golden "R.G." Armstrong, Jr. (April 7, 1917 – July 27, 2012) was an American actor and playwright. A veteran character actor who appeared in dozens of Westerns over the course of his 40-year career, he may be best remembered for his work with director Sam Peckinpah.[2][3]

Contents

Early life

Armstrong was born in Pleasant Grove, Alabama, and raised on a small farm near Birmingham.[4] He came from a family of religious fundamentalists, and his mother wanted him to be a pastor. Armstrong initially enrolled at Howard College, where he became interested in acting, and then transferred to the University of North Carolina. While there, along with classmate Andy Griffith, he began acting on stage with the Carolina Playmakers. Upon graduating, he attended the Actors' Studio.

Career

Armstrong quickly launched a career on Broadway. He won considerable acclaim for his role in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He also began writing his own plays, which were performed off-Broadway.

Armstrong's first film appearance was in the 1954 film Garden of Eden. However, it was television where he first earned a name for himself. He guest-starred in virtually every TV Western produced in the 1950s and 1960s, including: Have Gun - Will Travel, The Californians, The Big Valley, The Rifleman, Zane Grey Theater, Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Westerner, Bonanza, Maverick, Gunsmoke, Rawhide and Wagon Train. He also appeared on The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Andy Griffith Show, The Fugitive, Perry Mason, Daniel Boone, T.H.E. Cat, Hawaii Five-O, Starsky and Hutch, The Dukes of Hazzard, and Dynasty. Armstrong had a recurring role in the second season of Millennium as a reclusive visionary known only as the Old Man. In the late 1980s, he played the demonic "Uncle Lewis Vendredi" in the Canadian horror series Friday the 13th: The Series.

While working on The Westerner, Armstrong made the acquaintance of up-and-coming writer/director Sam Peckinpah. The two immediately struck up a friendship. Peckinpah recognized Armstrong's inner turmoil regarding the religious beliefs of his family and utilized that to brilliant effect in his films. Armstrong would almost always play a slightly unhinged fundamentalist Christian in Peckinpah's films, usually wielding a Bible in one hand and a shotgun in the other. This character archetype appeared in Ride the High Country (1962), Major Dundee (1965), and, perhaps most memorably, in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973). However, Armstrong also appeared in The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970), playing a more likeable character.

Even outside of Peckinpah's work, however, Armstrong became a tier-one character actor in his own right, appearing in dozens of films over his career, playing both villains and sympathetic characters. Some of his more memorable roles outside of Peckinpah's films include a sympathetic rancher in El Dorado (1966), Cap'n Dan in The Great White Hope (1970), outlaw Clell Miller in The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972), a bumbling outlaw in My Name is Nobody (1973), Race with the Devil (1975), as well as Children of the Corn (1984), Red Headed Stranger (1986) with Willie Nelson and as the General in Predator (1987). He appeared in several of Warren Beatty's films, including Heaven Can Wait (1978), Reds (1981), and as Pruneface in Dick Tracy (1990).

Despite being typecast as gruff and violent characters throughout his career, Armstrong is well known for having had a warm and affable personality offscreen. He semi-retired from films, but continued to be active in off-Broadway theater, until finally retiring because of near-blindness.

Personal life and death

Amstrong was married three times: his first wife was Ann Neale, with whom he had four children; he was then married to Susan Guthrie until 1976; he was married to his third wife, Mary Craven, until her death in 2004. Armstrong died at the age of 95 on July 27, 2012 in Studio City, California home from natural causes. He is survived by his four children from his first marriage.[5]

Filmography

References

Further reading

External links