'Videodrome' Actor Les Carlson Dies at 81

He portrayed the sinister bad guy in the David Cronenberg sci-fi classic and also worked with the Canadian writer-director in "The Dead Zone" and "The Fly."

Les Carlson, who played Barry Convex, the evil head of the Spectacular Optical Corp., in David Cronenberg's hallucinatory sci-fi classic Videodrome, died May 3 at his home in Toronto. He was 81.

Carlson also appeared in three other Cronenberg projects -- as an intimidated newspaper editor in The Dead Zone (1983); as a doctor in the Jeff Goldblum starrer The Fly (1986); and as an aging actor in Camera (2000), one of a series of short films produced for the 25th anniversary celebration of the Toronto International Film Festival.

The prolific character actor also was memorable as a pushy Christmas tree salesman in the holiday perennial A Christmas Story (1983).

A native of Mitchell, S.D., who moved to Canada in the 1960s, Carlson was nominated for a supporting actor Genie Award for his performance as the sinister Convex in Videodrome (1983).

A member of a government conspiracy to purge people who are fixated on extreme sex and violence, his character inserts a brainwashing videotape into the "VCR" in the stomach of Max (James Woods), the sleazy head of a station in search of kinky programming.

Carlson also appeared in such other films as Black Christmas (1974), Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile (1974), Shoot (1976), Love at First Sight (1977), High-Ballin' (1978) and Improper Channels (1981) and had a recurring role on the 1990s CBC/Disney Channel series Road to Avonlea.

He also appeared in guest spots on such TV shows as The New Avengers, The X-Files, Highlander, 21 Jump Street and MacGyver.

Survivors include his wife Joan, sons Ned and Ben and sister Judy.

Erik Hayden contributed to this report.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4