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Lee Van Cleef (1925-1989)
Lee Van Cleef

Old Flame, May 28, 1960 Written by John Meston, Story by Marian Clark, Directed by Jesse Hibbs, Guest Cast: Marilyn Maxwell, Lee Van Cleef, Peggy Stewart, Hal Smith, Clem Fuller

My Father, My Son, April 23, 1966 Written by Hal Sitowitz, Directed by Robert Totten, Guest Cast: Jack Elam, Lee van Cleef, Zalman King, Teno Pollick, Charles Kuenstle, Del Monroe, James Gammon, John McLiarn, Billy Halop, Scott Hale

He had the perfect face for a villain with sharp features, dark hair, often a black mustache, and piercing eyes. He was, to be sure, one of the most memorable villains in film history. It was his work in the Italian Sergio Leone "spaghetti westerns" that made him an international star. Born of Dutch ancestry on January 9, 1925 in Somerville, New Jersey, not much is known of his early years. He returned to New Jersey after a stint in the Navy during World War II serving on subchasers and minesweepers and worked at various odd jobs. It was during this period that he became involved with community theatre and found he had a knack for acting. He was discovered by director Stanley Kramer who cast him as a gunslinger in "High Noon" (1952) with Gary Cooper, his film debut, pretty much typecasting him for the rest of his career as a villain. Among his other film credits are: "Untamed Frontier" (1952) as Dave Chittun; "Kansas City Confidential" (1952) as gangster Tony Romano; "White Lightning" (1953) as Brutus; "The Bandits of Corsica" (1953) as Nerva; "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" (1953) as Corporal Stone; "The Desperado" (1954) as twins Paul & Buck Crayton; "Tribute to a Bad Man" (1956) as Fat Jones; "Pardners" (1956) with Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, as Gus; "The Quiet Gun" (1957) as Sadler/Killer; "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (1957) as Ed Bailey; "The Tin Star" (1957) with Henry Fonda, as Ed McCaffey; "The Bravados" (1958) as Alfonso Parral; "The Young Lions" (1958) with Marlon Brando, as Sgt. Rickett; "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962) as Reese; "How the West Was Won" (1962) as Marty; "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (1966) as Angel Eyes Sentenza; "El Condor" (1970) as Jaroo; "Escape from New York" (1981) with Kurt Russell, as Bob Hauk; "Speed Zone!" (1989) as Grandfather and "Thieves of Fortune" (1990) as Sergio, his last film. On TV he was a regular on the series: "The Master" (1984) in the title role as John Peter McAllister. He also appeared in the TV movies: "Nowhere to Hide" (1977) and "The Hard Way" (1979). He guest starred on many TV series including: "Annie Oakley"; "Buffalo Bill Jr."; "Tombstone Territory"; "Tales of Wells Fargo"; "Colt .45"; "Yancey Derringer"; "The Rifleman"; "The Real McCoys"; "The Untouchables"; "Gunsmoke"; "Zorro"; "Hawaiian Eye"; "Twilight Zone" and "The Andy Griffith Show." He died of a heart attack on December 14, 1989 in Oxnard, California at the age of 64.

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