Tom Laughlin Dies; Billy Jack Actor Was 82

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More sad news from Hollywood: Tom Laughlin, the actor who wrote and starred in the Billy Jack films of the 1970s, died Thursday at the age of 82.


Laughlin's best-known Billy Jack character was a heroic Native American ex-Army Green Beret who used his karate skills to fight racism and oppression.

The second of the movie series, titled "Billy Jack," was a low-budget independent film that became a box-office blockbuster in 1971 for Laughlin.

The film was criticized by those who saw its central theme as a message that violence was an answer to injustice, so it was not without controversy.

Laughlin resorted to renting out theaters himself to show the project after Hollywood studios refused to distribute it. He co-wrote and directed the film.

Laughlin later attempted a political career, mounting several primary bids for office. He is survived by his wife, three children and five grandchildren.

His wife of 60 years, Delores Taylor, also acted in his films. Laughlin died near his Thousand Oaks, California, home on Thursday, his family said.

In related news, Peter O'Toole died yesterday at the age of 81, and Joan Fontaine passed away as well at the age of 96. Rest in peace to these greats.

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