Sonny Landham, the actor best known for his roles in the movies "Predator" and "48 Hrs," has died. He was 76.
His sister, Dawn Boehler, confirmed that he died from congestive heart failure at a hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, reports the Mirror.
Landham's muscular physique landed him first in X-rated movies, before progressing to mainstream action fare, which often capitalized on his Seminole and Cherokee heritage.
His best known role was the character of Billy Sole, a Native American tracker in Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1987 mega-hit “Predator," notes Variety.
It was the 1982 Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte cop thriller "48 Hrs" that gave Landham his big Hollywood break. His portrayal of the knife-wielding villain, "Billy Bear," led to several other roles in which he was also named either "Billy" or "Bear," observes IMDb.
In a 1985 episode of the television cop-detective show "Hardcastle and McCormick," for example, he played character Sheriff Billy Blackstone.
He played the title role in the 1996 movie "Billy Lone Bear."
One of his last roles was in a 2009 video called "Mental Scars," in which he played "Chief Bear."
In "Predator" he was simply "Billy." As also happens in "48 Hrs," "Predator" culminates with Landham's shirtless character getting killed while holding a huge knife.
With over 50 acting credits, he also played many characters not named "Billy" or "Bear." In the made-for-TV movie "The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission," he was the Indian-sounding "Sam Sixkiller" -- perhaps an homage to the legendary Native American football player Sonny Sixkiller, who played quarterback for the Washington Huskies in the 1970s.
In two films, "2090" and "Extralarge: Condor Mission," Landham's character was simply called "Indian." In "Lock Up," starring Sylvester Stallone, he played "Chink." In "Action Jackson," starring Carl Weathers, he played "Mr. Quick."
In 2003, Landham ran unsuccessfully for governor of Kentucky on the Republican Party ticket, and the following year made a failed bid for the Kentucky State Senate, notes Variety.
In 2008, he was nominated by Kentucky’s Libertarian party for the U.S. Senate seat held by Mitch McConnell, but the nomination was rescinded following controversial comments he made on a radio talk show.
Landham is survived by his son, William, and daughter, Priscilla.