Steely Character Actor G.D. Spradlin Dies at 90

3:30 PM PST 07/25/2011 by Mike Barnes
G.D. Spradlin

Former oilman appeared as authority figures in "Godfather: Part II," "One on One" and "Apocalypse Now."

G.D. Spradlin, a character actor who specialized in playing authority figures in such films as The Godfather: Part II and One on One, died July 24 at his ranch in San Luis Obispo, Calif. He was 90.

Spradlin appeared in more than 70 films and television shows and used his real-life experience as an attorney, oilman and rancher to play men in charge.

He also appeared as Maj. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger in MacArthur (1977); as an unofficial Coach Tom Landry in North Dallas Forty (1979); as the general who assigns Martin Sheen to the search mission in Apocalypse Now (1979); as a reverend in Ed Wood (1994); and as Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee in Dick (1999).

In Godfather: Part II (1974), Spradlin portrayed a corrupt senator from Nevada who is blackmailed by the Corleone family after he wakes up and finds himself drenched in a dead prostitute’s blood.

In One on One (1977), Spradlin plays tough-as-nails college basketball coach Moreland Smith who gives small-town high school star Robby Benson a hard time.

A native of Oklahoma and a recipient of a Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Spradlin also appeared in such TV shows as Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.; Mannix; It Takes a Thief; Dragnet; and Adam 12. He directed two films, The Only Way Home and Outside In, both released in 1972.

Survivors include his wife, Frances; his daughters Tamara and Wendy; and five grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to Hospice Partners of the Central Coast.

E-mail: Mike.Barnes@thr.com

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