Tough-guy actor James Coburn dies

— James Coburn, the tough actor in films that included "Our Man Flint" and "The Magnificent Seven," but who won an Academy Award years later for his portrayal of a dissolute father in "Affliction," died Monday. He was 74.

Coburn died of a heart attack at home while listening to music with his wife, said his manager, Hillard Elkins.

Coburn won his best supporting actor Oscar for the 1998 film after overcoming a 10-year struggle with arthritis that left one hand crippled.

Born Aug. 31, 1928, in Laurel, Neb., Coburn studied acting in Los Angeles and with Stella Adler in New York.

He appeared on stage in New York and in such dramatic television series as "Studio One" and "General Electric Theatre" in the 1950s.

He made his movie debut in "Ride Lonesome" in 1959 and gained the public's notice a year later when he played the knife-throwing Britt in "The Magnificent Seven."

Coburn played sidekicks and villains until the late 1960s when he cashed in on the James Bond mania with the humorous spy spoofs "Our Man Flint" and "In Like Flint."


AP File Photo

James Coburn holds his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in "Affliction" during the 71st Annual Academy Awards in this March 21, 1999, photo. Coburn, who played tough-guy roles in such films as "Our Man Flint" and "The Magnificent Seven," died Monday at home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 74.

In the 1980s he all but disappeared from the screen with the onset of arthritis.

He said he "healed himself" with pills that had a sulfur base. His knuckles remained gnarled, but he said in a 1999 interview with The Associated Press that the pain was gone.

He said at that time, when the film roles weren't coming, "I've been reading a lot of stuff. I want to go to work. It's what I do best; it's the only thing I can really do.

"Actors are boring when they're not working, it's a natural condition, because they don't have anything to do, they just lay around and that's why so many of them get drunk. They really get to be boring people. My wife will attest to that," he said with a hearty laugh.


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