Clu Gulager dead: “The Virginian,” “Return of Living Dead” star was 93 years old

Clu Gulager, a veteran actor best known for his roles on the NBC series The Virginian and the 1985 horror comedy The Return of the Living Dead, has died. He was 93 years old.

Gulager’s son John shared a photo of his father on his Facebook page as a tribute. Filmmaker Sean Baker, who directed Gulager in the 2015 feature film Tangerine, confirmed the news of his death on Twitter.

Gulager’s acting career spanned seven decades, beginning with small cameos on 1950s television series. A TV western mainstay, Gulager starred as Billy the Kid on NBC’s The Tall Man for two seasons and has a regular role on the network’s The Virginian for four of its nine seasons.

In the 1980s, Gulager was reintroduced to a new generation of viewers with prominent roles in horror films. The actor starred opposite Vera Miles in 1984’s The Initiation and a year later starred in Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead. Gulager was a favorite of director Quentin Tarantino, whose 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood marked the actor’s final screen credit. Gulager played a bookstore owner in Tarantino’s film.

Clu’s father, who was born William Martin Gulager on November 16, 1928 in Holdenville, Oklahoma, was a former actor and cowboy entertainer. After serving in the US Marine Corps in the 1940s, Gulager attended Northeastern State University and later Baylor University, where he began his acting venture.

Gulager’s first screen credit is listed as an episode of the 1955 variety show Omnibus. After a string of guest appearances on TV shows, The Tall Man marked Billy the Kid’s first major role, starring alongside Barry Sullivan as Pat Garrett. Though the NBC series was short-lived, Gulager quickly found himself back in the saddle as a regular cast member on The Virginian just a few years later.

In 1964, Gulager had a starring role in Don Siegel’s The Killers, starring alongside a cast that included Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes and Ronald Reagan (in his final film role).

Gulager also directed his own short film, A Day With the Boys, which was nominated for the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival.

Later in his career, Gulager was managed by his son, John Gulager. The pair worked on the horror comedy film series Feast and 2012’s Piranha 3DD.

Gulager married fellow actress Miriam Byrd-Nethery in 1960. The two remained married until Byrd-Nethery’s death in 2003. He is survived by his sons John and Tom; and his daughter-in-law Diane. Clu Gulager dead: “The Virginian,” “Return of Living Dead” star was 93 years old

Charles Jones

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