Popular ‘Sheriff’ Actor Clifton James Dies

Long time actor Clifton James died April 15 at the age of 96 in his Gladstone, Oregon home as a result of diabetes complications.

James is best known for his role as Sheriff J.W. Pepper in the James Bond films “Live and Let Die” and “Man with the Golden Gun” where he played a southern sheriff. JW Pepper was only one of many roles where James portrayed a southern law enforcement officer. While he made his screen debut in 1954, it was 1967 and “Cool Hand Luke” that established James as a convincing southern officer.

James made some 100 appearances in film and television; but he also performed on the Broadway stage, making his debut as a cop in the comedy play “The Time of Your Life.” His other Broadway roles include “The Cave Dwellers,” “J.B.,” “The Long Dream,” “All the Way Home,” “Great Day in the Morning,” “Andorra,” “And Things That Go Bump in the Night,” “The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald,” “The Shadow Box” and “Total Abandon.”

After making his screen debut in “The Secret Storm,” James other roles included “The Phil Silvers Show” where he played a State Trooper and a Sergeant, “Naked City,” “Route 66,” the daytime drama “Another World,” “The Virginian,” a sheriff in “Cimarron Strip,” “Mannix,” “Ironside,” “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” Sheriff Chauncey in “Silver Streak,” “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training,” “The Dukes of Hazzard” as Sheriff Lester Crabb, a sheriff in “Superman II,” 38 episodes of “The Texan,” Silas Jones in 13 episodes of “Lewis & Clark,” “The A-Team,” “Highway to Heaven,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Dallas,” “Night Court,” the daytime drama “All My Children” and “Raising Flagg.” He was scheduled to appear in”Old Soldiers” which is currently in pre-production.

He was born George Clifton James on May 29, 1920, in Spokane, Washington the only boy of five children but was raised in Gladstone, Oregon. During World War II James served in the South Pacific as a member of the United States Army. James received two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star for his service. It was after his stint in the Army that James turned his hand to acting.

Predeceased by his second wife Laurie, James is survived by two sisters, five children, 14 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

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