2020 has been a year of nonstop bad news, and today that continues as veteran character actor Anthony James has reportedly passed away. Particularly known for playing villainous roles in Westerns like Unforgiven and many other types of movies and television shows, James died of cancer two months short of his 78th birthday, perishing at the age of 77. Some have since begun planting trees in memory of James with those close to the actor now mourning his loss.
James was born as James Anthony on July 22, 1942, in Myrtle Beach, Carolina. An only child of Greek immigrants, Anthony had changed his name professionally when he started his acting career, so as to avoid confusion with the similarly-named actor Jimmy Anthony. Marika Palla, James' mother, was said to be his hero, and after her death in 2008, the actor wrote the memoir Acting My Face to honor her memory. In the book, James reveals how he was only eight years old when his father died, leaving Marika to raise him on her own. When James reached adulthood, Marika encouraged him to pursue his dreams and the two set out for Los Angeles so James could launch an acting career.
Right away, James found some success with his life in Hollywood. His very first movie role was as Ralph in the 1967 movie In the Heat of the Night, a film that went on to win the Best Picture Oscar and instantly get James noticed by the rest of Hollywood. From that point forward, dozens of movie and TV roles would begin falling in James' lap, and finding work was not difficult for James. On the small screen, he would shine in roles on shows like Gunsmoke, Hawaii Five-O, The A-Team, Simon & Simon, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Hes also appeared in such movies as Burnt Offerings and Blue Thunder, also memorably spoofing the types of villains he typically portrayed in the 1991 comedy The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear.
In 1992, James retired from acting following his performance as Skinny Dubois in the hit Western Unforgiven, starring alongside Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, and Morgan Freeman. Like James' first movie, Unforgiven also managed to capture the Oscar for Best Picture. This gives James the distinction of perfectly bookending his career with performances in two Best Picture winners, something most aspiring actors can only dream of. Following his acting run, James would relocate to the Boston area to spend the rest of his days as an artist, painting abstract artwork and writing poetry.
Never married and with no children, James is survived by the many, many friends he's gotten to know throughout his life, and is especially missed by those in his community. By all accounts, James seems to have been the total opposite of the antagonists he's played on screen. May he rest in peace. Those looking to make charitable donations in his memory can give to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital or to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.