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Tom Laughlin Dies at 82: Actor Became a Maverick Icon

15 December 2013 6:06 PM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Tom Laughlin, who died of complications from pneumonia Dec. 12 in Thousand Oaks at age 82, was one of those only-in-Hollywood stories. After acting in small parts on films and TV shows in the 1950s and 1960s, he turned filmmaker with a series of “Billy Jack” films, whose anti-establishment attitude captured the zeitgeist of the 1970s.

The fourth film in the series, the 1977 “Billy Jack Goes to Washington,” floundered at the box office, but Laughlin’s life imitated his art, as he became a political and social advocate, running for president three times. He also founded a Montessori school and became a political activist.

Laughlin was a true Hollywood maverick, tackling topics in his 1970s films that reflected the disenfranchised Americans who embraced his films. But he also battled the studios’ distribution and marketing systems. Following the leads of such diverse influences as John Cassavetes and Roger Corman, Laughlin embraced the American indie movement, »

- Tim Gray

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1 item from 2013


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