R.G. Armstrong, Character Actor in Dozens of Westerns, Dies at 95

R.G. Armstrong in ABC's "Dynasty" in 1981.
R.G. Armstrong in ABC's "Dynasty" in 1981.
 ABC

R.G. Armstrong, a veteran tough-guy character actor who appeared in dozens of TV Westerns and in four films for director Sam Peckinpah, died July 27 at his home in Studio City. He was 95.

Armstrong also was a favorite of Warren Beatty’s, appearing in Heaven Can Wait (1978), Reds (1981) and Dick Tracy (1990), in which he played the bad guy Pruneface.

For Peckinpah, whom he met on the set of the writer-director’s 1960 series The Westerner, Armstrong appeared in Ride the High Country (1962), Major Dundee (1965), The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973).

His film résumé also includes El Dorado (1966), starring John Wayne; My Name Is Nobody (1973); Stay Hungry, with a young Arnold Schwarzenegger (1976); Children of the Corn (1984); Red Headed Stranger, with Willie Nelson (1986); and Predator (1987).

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On a memorable 1961 episode of The Andy Griffith Show, Armstrong played a farmer who didn’t approve of his daughter wearing makeup. In the late 1980s, he was the demonic Lewis Vendredi in Friday the 13th: The Series.

During his four-decade-plus career, the Birmingham, Ala., native also appeared on such shows as Have Gun — Will Travel, The Californians, The Rifleman, Maverick, Lawman, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Rawhide, T.H.E. Cat, Walker, Texas Ranger, The Dukes of Hazzard, Cannon, Fantasy Island, Charlie’s Angels, L.A. Law and Dynasty.

Armstrong working on stage with Griffith in a stint with the Carolina Playmakers in North Carolina. He attended the Actors Studio in New York and in 1955 played Dr. Baugh in Elia Kazan’s original Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Armstrong is survived by daughters Daryl, Robbie, Laurie and Betty; son Wynn; and five grandchildren.

Watch Armstrong as gym owner Thor Erickson with Sally Field and Jeff Bridges in scenes from Stay Hungry below.

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