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James Coburn Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (4) | Trivia (17) | Personal Quotes (4) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 31 August 1928Laurel, Nebraska, USA
Date of Death 18 November 2002Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameJames Harrison Coburn Jr.
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Lanky, charismatic and versatile actor with an amazing grin that put everyone at ease, James Coburn studied acting at UCLA, and then moved to New York to study under noted acting coach Stella Adler. After being noticed in several stage productions, Coburn appeared in a handful of minor westerns before being cast as the knife-throwing, quick-shooting Britt in the John Sturges mega-hit The Magnificent Seven (1960). Sturges remembered Coburn's talents when he cast his next major film project, The Great Escape (1963), where Coburn played the Australian POW Sedgewick. Regular work now came thick and fast for Coburn, including appearing in Major Dundee (1965), the first of several films he appeared in directed by Hollywood enfant terrible Sam Peckinpah. The next two years were a key period for Coburn, with his performances in the wonderful 007 spy spoof Our Man Flint (1966) and the eerie Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (1966). Coburn followed up in 1967 with a Flint sequel, In Like Flint (1967), and the much underrated political satire The President's Analyst (1967). The remainder of the 1960s was rather uneventful for Coburn. However, he became associated with martial arts legend Bruce Lee and the two trained together, traveled extensively and even visited India scouting locations for a proposed film project, but Lee's untimely death (Coburn, along with Steve McQueen, was a pallbearer at Lee's funeral) put an end to that.

The 1970s saw Coburn appearing again in several strong roles, starting off in Peckinpah's Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973), alongside Charles Bronson in the Depression-era Hard Times (1975) and as a disenchanted German soldier on the Russian front in Peckinpah's superb Cross of Iron (1977). Towards the end of the decade, however, Coburn was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which severely hampered his health and work output for many years. After conventional treatments failed, Coburn turned to a holistic therapist, and through a restructured diet program, made a definite improvement. By the 1990s he was once again appearing regularly in both film and TV productions.

No one was probably more surprised than Coburn himself when he was both nominated for, and then won, the Best Supporting Actor Award in 1997 for playing Nick Nolte's abusive and alcoholic father in Affliction (1997). At 70 years of age, Coburn's career received another shot in the arm, and he appeared in another 14 films, including Snow Dogs (2002) and The Man from Elysian Fields (2001), before his death from a heart attack in November of 2002. Coburn's passions in life included martial arts, card playing and enjoying fine Cuban cigars!

- IMDb Mini Biography By: firehouse44

Spouse (2)

Paula O'Hara (22 October 1993 - 18 November 2002) (his death)
Beverly Kelly (14 November 1959 - 12 April 1979) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (4)

Deeply calm, yet authoritative voice
Narrow eyes and wide mouth
Often played unscrupulous, mean characters
Lanky, lean frame

Trivia (17)

In 1979 he started suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis which at times left him debilitated. In 1998 a holistic healer started him on a dietary supplement, which resulted in a drastic improvement in his condition.
Became a father for the 1st time at age 32 when his 1st wife Beverly Kelly gave birth to their son James H. Coburn IV on May 22, 1961.
Along with his 'Magnificent Seven' co-star Steve McQueen, Coburn was a pallbearer at the funeral of his friend (and his martial arts instructor) Bruce Lee on July 31, 1973 in Seattle, Washington.
Appears on the cover of Paul McCartney's 1973 album "Band on the Run".
He co-wrote two songs with Lynsey De Paul, "Melancholy Melon" and "Losin' the Blues for You" that appeared on her album "Tigers and Fireflies".
He had a relationship with Lynsey De Paul.
Step-daughter Lisa was web mistress for genesimmons.com, the official website of Gene Simmons from the rock group KISS.
At the time of his death, he was at home listening to music and playing his flute.
Appeared with Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson in two films, both of which were directed by John Sturges: The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Great Escape (1963).
College friend of his The Magnificent Seven (1960) co-star Robert Vaughn.
Was a big fan of Seven Samurai (1954). His favorite character in that film eventually became the character he ended up playing in The Magnificent Seven (1960).
Despite being one of the stars, he had only eleven lines in The Magnificent Seven (1960).
He once played the gong on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962).
For a time he did ads for "Schlitz" beer. Later after the contract was finished he admitted on a talk show that he never liked the taste of the beer.
Was the original choice for the role of Hannibal Smith in The A-Team (1983), a role which later went to George Peppard.
During the 1960s he was often compared with Lee Marvin.
Became good friends with Kris Kristofferson during the filming of Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973). They also worked together on Convoy (1978) and Payback (1999). Coburn contributed with backup vocals on Kristofferson's album "Who's to Bless and Who's to Blame".

Personal Quotes (4)

Actors are boring when they are not working. It's a natural condition, because they don't have anything to do. They just lay around, and that's why so many of them get drunk. They really get to be boring people. My wife will attest to that.
[on Sam Peckinpah] Sam is, I think, a great filmmaker. Of course, he's his own worst enemy. Sam is an unusual human being, and he needs to be treated like an unusual human being. He can create an atmosphere, whether he's drunk, sober, pissed off or in a rage, or whatever. I mean, for about three or four hours a day, he's a fucking genius. But the rest of the time he spends wallowing in a kind of emotional reaction to either good or bad memories.
[on Sam Peckinpah] He knew how to bring something out of an actor that even the actor didn't know was there. That's what an actor works for. What else is there? Saying lines, or being cute, or whatever. No. People think about that. People think that acting is an easy chore. "Why, I can do that". Like they have today. Tits and ass, and this studio who's always doing his trip. Shooting and killing and blowing things up. Nah. That's junk. It's terrible junk. Commercial shit is what it is. And everybody likes it because it's easy. Nobody has to think about anything. They just sit there and sensitize themselves or desensitize themselves to anything real. And it's, "Oh boy! Wasn't he great? See that gun he had?" They're made for thirteen-, fourteen-year-old boys.
[on Steve McQueen] Steve has to prove he had a worse childhood than anybody else. Only one other person I know can compete with him and that's Charlie Bronson.

Salary (1)

Candy (1968) $50,000 plus points

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