R.I.P. Clu Gulager, familiar face from 'The Virginian' and 'Return of the Living Dead'
He was known for playing gunslingers, deputies, and even for fighting zombies.
Even if you don't know his name, if you're a fan of classic Westerns, you probably know Clu Gulager.
He was one of those character actors who appeared all over classic TV, but he especially was known for his Western appearances. Have Gun — Will Travel, Wagon Train, Ironside, Bonanza, Wanted Dead or Alive... Gulager blended into the wild west sets like he belonged there.
In 1960, he got the chance to play one of history's most notorious gunslingers, Billy the Kid, in the TV series The Tall Man. The two-season show saw Gulager playing against Barry Sullivan as Sheriff Pat Garrett.
It wouldn't take long after the cancellation of The Tall Man for Gulager to get one of his most famous roles — Deputy Sheriff Emmett Ryker on The Virginian. In his very first episode, aptly titled "Ryker", he went up against a corrupt land-grabber played by Leslie Neilsen. Gulager would stay on the show for 102 episodes before leaving in 1968.
While he never took on a main role again in TV, he appeared as guest roles in everything from Falcon Crest to Walker, Texas Ranger to even a voice role on Beavis and Butt-Head.
In 1985, Gulager took another well-known role in the cult classic Return of the Living Dead, which is famous for introducing the concept of zombies wanting to chow down on brains specifically. As Burt Wilson, Gulager plays the owner of a warehouse whose employees accidentally unleash a hoarde of the dead onto an unsuspecting town.
The same year, Gulager reinforced his horror legacy by appearing in the Nightmare on Elm Street sequel, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge where he played the father of the main character. He would later appear in the 2019 documentary about the movie, Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street.
Gulager's son, John Gulager, cast his dad in multiple of his own films starting in the 2000s. He appeared in John's 2005 horror comedy Feast, as well as Feast II: Sloppy Seconds and Feast III: The Happy Finish. In 2012, he worked with his son again in Piranha 3DD.
His final film appearance was in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
On Facebook, his daughter-in-law Diane Goldner released a family statement: "Clu was as caring as he was loyal and devoted to his craft, a proud member of the Cherokee nation, a rule-breaker, sharp and astute and on the side—always—of the oppressed. He was good-humored, an avid reader, tender and kind. Loud and dangerous... He is survived by his sons John and Tom, their partners Diane and Zoe, his cherished grandson Clu Mosha, dedicated fans, and decades of extraordinary students."
The long-time actor was 93 years old.