Archiver > OBITUARIES > 2008-09 > 1222068767

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Subject: [OBITS] James Harrison Coburn, Jr.
Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2008 07:32:47 -0000

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Author: cantorjoeocho
Surnames: Coburn,Kelly,Murad,Johnson
Classification: obituary

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James Coburn

Coburn in Charade, 1963
Born James Harrison Coburn Jr.
31 August 1928
Laurel, Nebraska U.S.
Died 18 November 2002 (aged 74)
Beverly Hills, California U.S.
Years active 1958-2002
Spouse(s) Beverly Kelly (1959-1979)
Paula Murad (1993-2002)
Awards won
Academy Awards
Best Supporting Actor
1998 Affliction

James Harrison Coburn, Jr. (31 August 1928-18 November 2002) was an American film and television actor known for his charisma and natural charm. Coburn appeared in almost 70 films and made over 100 appearances on television in his 45 year career, and won an Academy Award for "Best Actor in a Supporting Role" for his performance in Affliction (1997),


[edit] Early life

Coburn was born in Laurel, Nebraska, the son of Mylet S. (ne Johnson) and James Harrison Coburn, Sr., a garage mechanic. His maternal grandparents were immigrants from Sweden. He grew up in Compton, California and acted in college, eventually making his stage debut at the La Jolla Playhouse.

Coburn's film debut came in 1959 as the sidekick to bad guy Pernell Roberts in the Randolph Scott western Ride Lonesome.

He appeared in dozens of television roles. He and Ralph Taeger co-starred with Joi Lansing in Klondike on NBC in the 1960-1961 season. When Klondike, set in the Alaskan gold rush town of Skagway, was cancelled, Taeger and Coburn were regrouped as detectives in Mexico in NBC's equally short-lived Acapulco.

He later starred in a variety of films in the 1960s and the 1970s, first primarily with his friends Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn and Charles Bronson in the cinema classics The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. A villainous Texan in the hugely successful Charade (1963), a glib Naval officer in The Americanization of Emily (1964) and a character role as a one-armed Indian tracker in Major Dundee (1965) gained him much notice.

In 1966, he became a bona-fide movie star with the release of Our Man Flint, a James Bond spoof released by 20th Century Fox. After a sequel, he decided to branch off into the independent film world. Due to his interests in martial arts (which he discovered by training with Bruce Lee), Buddhism, and gong-playing, the remainder of the decade (which included less-than-memorable films) proved relatively uneventful in his career.

In 1971, he starred in the western A Fistful of Dynamite, a.k.a. "Duck, You Sucker," directed by Sergio Leone, as an Irish explosives expert and revolutionary who has fled to Mexico during the time of the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th Century.

He teamed up with director Sam Peckinpah for the 1973 film Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (they had worked together in 1965 on Major Dundee). An MGM producer tried to sabotage the production, causing the film to be drastically edited when it opened. Peckinpah and Coburn were greatly disappointed and turned next to Cross of Iron, a critically acclaimed war epic which performed poorly in the U.S. but was a huge hit in Europe. The two remained good friends until the legendary director's death in 1984.

Due to severe rheumatoid arthritis, he was featured in very few films during the 1980s. He spent much of his time writing songs with British singer-songwriter Lynsey De Paul and doing television such as his work on Darkroom. He claimed to have healed himself with pills containing a sulfur-based compound and returned to the screen in the 1990s, appearing in films such as Young Guns II, Sister Act 2, Maverick, The Nutty Professor, Affliction (for which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his vivid portrayal of the abusive father of Nick Nolte) and Payback, mostly in minor but memorable roles. Affliction also saw Coburn receive nominations for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role - Motion Picture.


Coburn died on November 18, 2002, aged 74, of a heart attack, while listening to the radio. He was survived by his wife, Paula Coburn (ne Murad), who was at his side when he died, as well as a son, and a stepdaughter. At the time of his death, he was the voice for the "Like a Rock" Chevrolet television ad campaign. Actor James Garner succeeded Coburn for the remainder of the ad campaign. Coburn's interment was located at Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery.
Paula Murad had hosted a TV show in Washington D.C. before moving to California. She made a few movie and television appearances. She died of cancer on July 30, 2004.

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