JT Walsh was a renowned American character actor who appeared in over 50 films and several TV shows. He was known for his versatile and convincing portrayals of villains, authority figures, and complex characters. He worked with some of the most acclaimed directors and actors in Hollywood, such as Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, and Kevin Costner. Some of his most memorable roles include Lt. Col. Markinson in A Few Good Men, Sgt. Major Dickerson in Good Morning, Vietnam, and Red Barr in Breakdown.
Early Life and Education
JT Walsh was born James Thomas Patrick Walsh on September 28, 1943, in San Francisco, California. He was the son of Mary and James Walsh, a US Air Force officer. He had three siblings: Christopher, Patricia, and Mary. He spent his childhood in various countries, such as Germany, Ireland, and Turkey, where his father was stationed. He attended a Jesuit boarding school in Ireland and learned to speak fluent German. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1967, where he majored in sociology and participated in anti-war protests.
Career and Achievements
JT Walsh did not pursue acting until he was 31 years old. He had various jobs, such as a social worker, a reporter, a teacher, and an encyclopedia salesman. He was discovered by a theater director in 1974 and began working in off-Broadway plays. He met playwright David Mamet in 1976 and starred in his plays American Buffalo and Glengarry Glen Ross. His performance in the latter earned him critical acclaim and a Broadway debut in 1984. He moved to Los Angeles in 1988 and started his film career with a minor role in Eddie Macon’s Run. He quickly established himself as a reliable and versatile character actor, often playing antagonists, corrupt officials, or troubled men. He collaborated with some of the best filmmakers in the industry, such as Oliver Stone, Barry Levinson, Rob Reiner, and Paul Thomas Anderson. He also appeared in several TV shows, such as The X-Files, Dark Skies, and The Outer Limits. He was respected and admired by his peers and fans for his professionalism, talent, and charisma.
Death and Legacy
JT Walsh died of a heart attack on February 27, 1998, at the age of 54. He was on vacation at a resort hotel in La Mesa, California, when he collapsed and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He had been a heavy smoker and had suffered from a respiratory illness called sarcoidosis. He was survived by his son, John West, his brother, and his sisters. He was buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Los Angeles. His death shocked and saddened the film industry and the public. He had completed two films before his death: Pleasantville and The Negotiator, which were dedicated to his memory. He also had a posthumous cameo in The Thin Red Line, which was his last film appearance. He left behind a legacy of memorable performances and a reputation of being one of the finest character actors of his generation.