Actor Powers Boothe, known for his award-winning, villainous characters, died of natural causes at the age of 68, on Sunday. The talented actor was known for his roles as the cold-blooded saloon owner Cy Tolliver, in Deadwood, President Noah Daniels on 24, Curly Bill Brocious in Tombstone, and in Nashville, playing Reina James’ slick, manipulative, tycoon father, Lamar Wyatt.
Marvel fans know Boothe from his role as one of the leaders of HYDRA. industrialist Gideon Malick, in The Avengers, which carried on into television with Agents of Shield.
But before he played these characters, Boothe spent a decade playing Shakespearian characters, starting out with the Oregon Shakespeare Company.
“For the first 10 years [that] I was a professional actor, all I did was Shakespeare. And the show I did in New York that brought me out [to L.A.] was a flat-out comedy. And they never let me do comedy.”
He certainly put his complex skills to the test with his first major role. In 1980, Boothe won the Emmy for outstanding actor in limited series for his portrayal of real life cult leader Jim Jones, in Guyana: The Story of Jim Jones. He portrayed the cult leader Jim Jones, who was responsible for over 900 deaths in Guyana, South America. According to CNBC, he even showed up at the ceremony to receive the award, despite a contentious Actors Guild strike that had nearly all nominees staying home. When he received the award, he honestly stated “This is either the most courageous moment of my career or the stupidest.” Obviously, it was the former, as this commenced his outstanding career.
In 1983, Boothe starred in HBO’s very first drama, Phillip Marlowe, Private Eye, based on the iconic Raymond Chandler character. The three-year series ushered in the new pay-for-tv movie era and paved the way for television today. The series garnered Boothe a Cable Ace Award for actor in a dramatic presentation.
When he spoke with TV Guide a decade ago, they pointed out that he played intimidating characters really well, and asked where they got it from. Booth laughed before he answered.
“Oh, I don’t know. I think it’s just something I was born with.”
Although he relished playing villains, the handsome actor led a less dramatic personal life. Son of a rancher, Powers Boothe was born in the small town of Snyder, Texas. Growing up baling hay and picking cotton, Boothe recalled his dad’s advice, “Dad used to say, ‘If you own some dirt, you can always eat.'”
Born with a movie star name, Boothe was named after a friend of his father’s. While it was an honor to be named after this man, his name also made people assume he had some airs.
“A friend of my father’s was killed in World War II and that was his first name. When I was starting out, I’m sure a lot of people thought I was a pretentious little s–t.”
Perhaps people assuming he was pretentious made it easier for him to play the meatier bad guy roles. He admitted to American Profile that he balanced the good and bad guy roles, “But the heavies are more fun. And I think they’re more interesting.”
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 15, 2017
He married his childhood sweetheart, Pam Cole, in 1969. They had a daughter and a son, Parisse and Preston.
He will be buried in a private service in Texas, although a more public memorial is being considered. His longtime publicist Karen Samfillipo told the Hollywood Reporter that any memorials can be made to the Gary Sinise Foundation, which supports programs to assist veterans, first responders, as well as their families.
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) May 15, 2017
Already, many are remembering the talented actor. Good friend Beau Bridges eulogized Boothe in a beautiful tweet.
“It’s with great sadness that I mourn the passing of my friend Powers Both. A dear friend, great actor, devoted father & husband.”
It's with great sadness that I mourn the passing of my friend Powers Boothe. A dear friend, great actor, devoted father & husband.
— Beau Bridges (@MrBeauBridges) May 14, 2017
Agents of Shield co-star Brett Dalton tweeted a photo and a touching memorial to his friend.
“So Sad to hear of the passing of Powers Both. You were ore than a costar you were my friend. My thoughts & prayers are with your family.”
So sad to hear of the passing of Powers Boothe. You were more than a costar, you were my friend. My thoughts & prayers are with your family pic.twitter.com/ZDx7N2My23
— Brett Dalton (@IMBrettDalton) May 15, 2017
Dana Delany who acted with Booth in both True Women and Tombstone gave him a powerful, heartfelt tribute.
“Met him on Tombstone & married him in True Women. Powers Boothe was a wonderful actor & even better man. Sad month for cowboys.”
Met him on Tombstone & married him in True Women. Powers Boothe was a wonderful actor & even better man. Sad month for cowboys. pic.twitter.com/tiQnMqFJjP
— Dana Delany (@DanaDelany) May 15, 2017
Powers Boothe loved his family and he loved acting. He always appreciated where he came from, and the success he achieved.
“As somebody who grew up chopping cotton, I’m telling you, this is a whole lot better.”
What is your favorite Powers Boothe role? Did you prefer his bad guy role or good guy roles? Please share your comments below.
[Featured Image by Sebastian Artz/Getty Images]