JAMES COBURN Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: James Harrison Coburn Jr.                                                                 
Born: 31 August 1928 Laurel, Nebraska U.S.                                                     
Died: 18 November 2002 Beverly Hills, California U.S.                                           
James Harrison Coburn, Jr. (August 31, 1928 – November 18, 2002) was an Oscar-winning         
American actor.                                                                                 
Coburn was born in Laurel, Nebraska, the son of Mylet S. (née Johnson) and James               
Harrison Coburn, Sr., a garage mechanic. His maternal grandparents were                         
immigrants from Sweden. He grew up in Compton, California and acted in                         
college, eventually making his stage debut at the La Jolla Playhouse.                           
Coburn became famous in the 1960s and 1970s as the "tough guy" in a variety of                 
films, first mostly with his friends Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn and Charles                   
Bronson (with whom he co-starred in The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape).               
A villainous part in the hugely successful Charade (1963) and a character role                 
as a one-armed Indian tracker in Major Dundee (1965) gained him much notice. In                 
1966, he finally became a bona-fide star with the release of Our Man Flint, a                   
James Bond spoof released by 20th Century Fox as competition. After a sequel, he               
decided to branch off into the independent film world. Due to his interests in                 
karate (which he discovered by training with Bruce Lee), Buddhism, and gong-playing,           
the remainder of the decade (which included less-than-memorable films) proved                   
uneventful to him.                                                                             
In 1971, he starred in the western A Fistful of Dynamite, directed by Sergio                   
Leone, where he plays as an Irish dynamite expert and revolutionary who has fled               
to Mexico during the time of the Mexican Revolution in the early part of the 20th               
century. In 1973 he teamed up with radical director Sam Peckinpah for the film                 
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (they had first worked together in 1965 on Major                   
Dundee). But an MGM producer tried to sabotage the production causing the film                 
to be drastically edited when it opened. Both Peckinpah and Coburn were                         
disappointed and delved into Cross of Iron, a critically-acclaimed war epic                     
which performed poorly in the US but was a huge hit in Europe. The two remained                 
good friends until the legendary director's death in 1984 of a stroke.                         
Due to severe rheumatoid arthritis, he featured in very few films during the                   
1980s and spent time writing songs with his partner at that time, British singer-songwriter     
Lynsey De Paul. He claimed to have healed himself with pills containing a sulfur-containing     
compound, and returned to screen in the 1990s. He then appeared in films such as               
Young Guns II (1990), Sister Act 2 (1993), Maverick (1994), The Nutty Professor                 
(1996), and Payback (1999), mostly in small but memorable roles. For appearing                 
as the abusive father of protagonist Nick Nolte in Affliction, he received an                   
Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1998.                                                       
He died suddenly on November 18, 2002, aged 74, of cardiac arrest, while                       
listening to the radio. He was survived by his wife, Paula Coburn (née Murad),                 
who was at his side when he died, as well as a son, and a stepdaughter. At the                 
time of his death, James Coburn was the voice for the "Like a Rock" Chevrolet                   
television ad campaign. Actor James Garner succeeded Coburn for the remainder of               
the ad campaign.                                                                               
Paula Murad had hosted a TV show in Washington D.C. before moving to California.               
She made a few movie and television appearances. Paula Murad Coburn died of                     
cancer on July 30, 2004.