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Billy Drago, best known for his work playing Al Capone’s top henchman in The Untouchables, died Monday in Los Angeles, his rep told The Hollywood Reporter. He was 73.
Drago appeared in numerous films and TV shows over the years, including X-Files and Charmed, but he was most recognized for portraying real-life mobster Frank Nitti (always wearing a white suit) in the Brian De Palma 1987 classic.
At the time, THR’s review of The Untouchables noted, “Also deserving praise on the bad guy’s side is Billy Drago as the psycho, trigger-happy Frank Nitti — his mean and vicious glint is razor sharp.” The character had a memorable rooftop demise at the hands of Eliot Ness, who was played by Kevin Costner.
Drago’s career spanned four decades, and he appeared in over 100 films, including Clint Eastwood’s classic Western Pale Rider (1985).
Drago was born in Hugoton, Kansas, to William Eugene Burrows Sr. and Gladys Marie Wilcox.
A journalist for the Associated Press in his younger years, Drago became a fixture on Kansas radio, which led to him hosting his own highly rated program.
Drago’s road to Hollywood was paved after a stint with a touring theater group, along with acclaimed performances in New York City.
The actor is remembered as a fearless artist and poet who tackled his work with intensity and pushed creative boundaries while encouraging his peers and those new to the business. He enjoyed traveling across the globe, from Indonesia to Israel.
Drago was married for a time to actress Silvana Gallardo, with whom he worked on numerous projects.
He is survived by his sister Patty, brother Steve and his two sons, actor Darren Burrows and Derrick Burrows, as well as several grandchildren.