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Veteran TV and Movie Star G.D. Spradlin Dies, Aged 90

by Catherine Lawson, posted Jul 26th 2011 9:00AM
G.D. SpradlinGervase Duan "G.D." Spradlin, a character actor best known for playing authority figures in television and films, including 'The Godfather: Part II' and 'Apocalypse Now,' has died. He was 90.

The 'Los Angeles Times' reports that Spradlin died of natural causes at his cattle ranch in San Luis Obispo on Sunday.

Born in Oklahoma in 1920, Spradlin served in the Army Air Forces in China during World War II and worked as a lawyer before becoming rich as an independent oil producer.

He turned to acting in his 40s and used his real-life experience as an attorney, oilman and rancher to play men in charge.

Spradlin also directed John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign in Oklahoma and ran for mayor of Oklahoma City, unsuccessfully, in 1965.

Spradlin's grandson told reporters that "He brought a lot of what he had done in his life to what he did on the screen," adding that his grandfather had a lifelong love of language and could recite passages from Shakespeare and poetry until the end.

He appeared in dozens of TV series, mini-series and TV movies from the mid-60s onward, including 'Dragnet,' 'Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,' 'Bonanza,' 'Rich Man, Poor Man -- Book II,' 'Columbo' and 'War and Remembrance.'

Spradlin's last TV role was in a 1996 episode of 'Dark Skies,' and his last movie role was as 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee in 'Dick' (1999).

However, despite his prolific TV career, Spradlin will best be remembered for two stand-out movie roles. In 'Apocalypse Now' he played the general who sends Martin Sheen's character up-river to find and kill Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando).

In 'The Godfather: Part II' he played the corrupt Nevada Senator Geary who tries to belittle the Corleone family by overcharging Michael (Al Pacino) for a gaming licence. The Corleones later blackmail Geary after he is found in bed with a murdered prostitute.

G.D. Spradlin is survived by his wife, Frances, two daughters and five grandchildren.

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ASRenato

I remember him as the sheriff in the movie "Tank" taking custody of C. Thomas Howell's character and the subsequent escape via the sergeant major's tank. Also in the movie Dorian Harewood's character, asserting Army law over civilian law, told the sheriff the Army would "nip it in the bud." The sheriff's reaction is classic and worthy of freezing the film just to look at that face!!! Rest in peace Mr. Spradlin!!!

July 29 2011 at 10:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
argonaut80

I've usually liked him in everything that he did, but I especially liked him as the head coach in NORTH DALLS FORTY. There was just something authoritative about Spradlin's voice, that was what I remembered most about him.

July 27 2011 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wongtpa

This review was definitely done by a left winger!

July 27 2011 at 12:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mpinc21742

Show business could use more men of the world like this man, who showed you can combine experience with artistry and produce an appealing product. He thrived in a show business environment and yet was as "real world" as you can get. We're fortunate he lived such a long and full life and are the beneficiaries of his consistently high quality and realistic work. He showed you can be in Tinseltown without being victimized by it. Hats off to a man and his wonderful legacy.

July 27 2011 at 11:35 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mpinc21742's comment
J

Sorry, I pressed the wrong button. I really support your view but not the one after yours from wongtpa.
I tried changing it but couldn't. Sorry.

July 27 2011 at 1:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hi Paul & Steph!

And don't forget his "take" on Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry, as "BA" in the best sports movie ever made "North Dallas Forty"...

July 27 2011 at 11:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
samgbev

sad day for another great actor...who has passed.. The One movie he stood out in my life growing up and by Far was his best role is .. when he played Robbie Bensons Coach in the movie ONe On One.. he was convincing and motivating to me through out that movie.. rest in peace...

July 27 2011 at 9:05 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
me

Full Metal Jacket would be my pick as number 1. My experience in Basic Training was very much the same including having a slow witted private that caused us be physically and verbally abused daily. We call him baby huey.

July 27 2011 at 8:17 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Polk Salad Annie

I remember G.D. Spradlin from my all-time favorite show, the "Dragnet 1967-70" series. He was a terrific character actor. I really dug his voice and that cool southern accent.

July 27 2011 at 4:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
themechanic

Great job as Admiral Spruance in War and Remembrance. Thanks for your service and Rest in Peace Brother.

July 26 2011 at 9:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
GORMLESS

Aha. THAT's him. Terrific character actor. Memorable roles, personifications, and voice. Sorry he's gone and that I did not know more to appreciate him fully in mid-career. Nevertheless, glad he was a Democrat (i.e., "cool") and that he is so well-remembered. So very deserved and fitting. A soldier for Hollywood and the arts and a learned man. Very nice. Grateful for having witnessed his talents and time...

July 26 2011 at 7:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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