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Michael Parks, Character Actor in ‘Kill Bill’ and ‘Tusk,’ Dies at 77

Variety logo Variety 5/10/2017 Seth Kelley

Michael Parks, a character actor with over 100 film and television credits, has died. He was 77.

Parks’ agent announced that the actor died on Tuesday.

Parks was born in Corona, Calif., where his early jobs included picking fruit, digging ditches, driving trucks, and fighting forest fires. His film career began in 1961, when he played the nephew of the character George Mac Michael on the ABC sitcom “The Real McCoys.”

His other early roles include Adam in John Huston’s 1966 religious drama “The Bible: In the Beginning,” the NBC series “Sam Benedict,” and the medical drama “The Eleventh Hour.”

The prolific actor had a late-career surge, working with directors including Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, and Robert Rodriguez. In the first and second “Kill Bill” movies he played Texas Ranger Earl McGraw and Esteban Vihaio.

While he mostly made his career in villainous turns and supporting roles, Parks also dabbled in the spotlight. In 2011’s “Red State” he played the fire and brimstone Pastor Abin Cooper in the vein of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Decades earlier, starting in 1969, he played the lead role in the NBC adventure drama “Then Came Bronson.” Parks recorded the theme for the show, “Long Lonesome Highway,” which cracked multiple Billboard charts. He recorded several albums with MGM including “Closing The Gap” (1969), “Long Lonesome Highway” (1970), and “Blue” (1970).

Smith remembered the performer in a long, heartfelt Instagram tribute, calling Parks his “cinematic muse.”

“Michael was, and will likely forever remain, the best actor I’ve ever known,” Smith wrote, adding that he wrote his films “Red State” and “Tusk” for the late actor. “He was, hands-down, the most incredible thespian I ever had the pleasure to watch perform.”

Parks is survived by his wife, Oriana, and his son James.

See Smith’s tribute below:

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