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James Gammon

July 19, 2010 by Post Team 

James GammonJames Gammon:(Los Angeles Times) — James Gammon a character actor whose craggy face and husky voice made lasting memories in Sam Shepard plays, a series of television programs and Western films, and a comic turn in the baseball movie “Major League”, has died . He was 70.

Gammon died Friday surrounded by his family at his daughter’s home in Costa Mesa, where he and his wife, Nancy, had been living. He had cancer of the adrenal glands and liver.

Gammon may be best known for his role as Lou Brown, manager of the hapless Cleveland Indians in 1989′s comedy “Major League” and its sequel 1994. He stood up with a key role in movies like “Urban Cowboy,” “The Milagro Beanfield War,” “Leaving Normal,” “Ironweed,” “Silverado” and “Cold Mountain.”

On television he played the father in “Nash Bridges” from 1996 to 2001, when he was only nine years older than Don Johnson star. Also had recurring roles on the television series “The Waltons,” “Bagdad Cafe”, “Homefront”, and “Middle Ages”, a central role in the 1995 miniseries “Streets of Laredo” and a series of appearances ranging from ” Gunsmoke westerns and others in the 1960s to “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2007.

Despite leaving a lasting impression on screens large and small audiences Gammon seized more strongly when he was on stage. A co-founder of the MET Theatre, received several Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for acting and directing. Gammon helped establish the age MET, a theater of 50 seats in the Poinsettia Place near Melrose Avenue in the Fairfax district in the 1970s with a trilogy of plays by William Inge’s “Bus Stop” “Picnic” and “Dark at the top of the stairs.”

“He did a lot of movies and television, but I think its great presence and power was on stage,” said Paul Kosler, an actor and director who worked with Gammon at the Met on Saturday. “I always had something unexpected and fascinating and real.”

In 1978, Gammon Shepard in his first drama, “The Curse of the Starving Class” at the Public Theater in New York. The playwright called Gammon “amazing” after seeing him take the role of Weston on the West Coast premiere at the MET, a year later.

The theater critic Sylvie Drake in a review in The Times of MET production: “His performance is a cut of meat – a fascinating, drunk, tough portrait of a blind man at sea in a life had abandoned years before, wait too long ago never to find again. ”

Gammon starred in a succession of Shepard-enclosed papers, including “A Lie of the Mind”, “Simpatico,” “The Late Henry Moss” and a 1996 Broadway production of “Buried Child”, which received a Tony Award nomination.

Shepard stories of abandonment and family ties off struck a chord with Gammon.

“I’m wiped out for it,” Gammon said the New York Times in 1996. “I would be taken.”

Gammon was born April 20, 1940, in a farm town of Newman, Illinois after his parents separated, he moved with his mother and siblings to central Florida, where he finished high school. He briefly attended college, then got a job as a cameraman in the subsidiary of the CBS-TV in Orlando.

Soon she headed to Los Angeles, where he met his future wife and was involved in local theater.

Gammon returned to Florida in 1989 after buying a horse farm in Ocala nine acres Miracle, where he and his wife bred thoroughbred racehorses. (Penny Blues, a thoroughbred horse Gammons and co-owned with Johnson, won the Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita in 2000.)

Besides his wife of 38 years, Gammon is survived by her daughters, Allison Mann, of Costa Mesa and Amy Gammon of West Hollywood, two grandchildren, a brother, Philip of Northridge, and a sister, Sandra Glaudell Ocala.

Although Gammon detached from the market economy in the 1980s, still returned occasionally, especially for a 2003 production of “King Lear.”

“Theatre has been the foundation of everything,” Gammon said the Chicago Tribune in 1995. “I’d rather do theater all the time if I could. It is so unfortunate that there is no way to really make a living at it soon.”

A memorial service is planned for August in new MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave, Los Angeles.

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