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Billy Drago, ‘Untouchables’ Star, Dies at 73

Variety logo Variety 6/26/2019 Pat Saperstein
Billy Drago wearing a red hat © Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock

Billy Drago, who often played harming but chilling gangster roles and appeared in Brian De Palma’s “The Untouchables” and Clint Eastwood’s “Pale Rider,” died Monday in Los Angeles of complications from a stroke. He was 73.

The character actor played Al Capone’s henchman Frank Nitti in 1987’s “The Untouchables.”

On TV series “Charmed,” he put his reptilian stare to good use as the demon Barbas in several episodes over five seasons.

Born William Eugene Burrows in Hugoton, Kan., his actor-director father was said to be of Native American origin. His mother’s family was of Romany extraction; he took their name Drago as his stage name. Starting out as a stuntman, he moved to New York and beginning his acting career.

Drago started acting in the late 1970s, appearing in films including “Cutter’s Way,” “No Other Love” and “Windwalker.” On television, he had guest roles in “Hill Street Blues,” “Moonlighting,” “Walker Texas Ranger,” “Trapper John, M.D.” and “The X-Files.”

Appearing in more than 100 films, he had roles in three Chuck Norris films including “Invasion U.S.A.,” “Hero and the Terror” and “Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection” as drug lord Ramon Cota.

Drago also appeared in Michael Jackson’s “You Rock My World” music video in 2001 and as the mysterious stranger in Mike and the Mechanics’ “Silent Running (on Dangerous Ground).”

His later film roles included Gregg Araki’s “Mysterious Skin,” “The Hills Have Eyes” remake and “Children of the Corn: Genesis.”

Drago’s son Darren E. Burrows, who survives him, has appeared on TV shows including “Northern Exposure.”

Related slideshow: In Memoriam 2019: Remembering the stars we lost (Provided by Photo Services):


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