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Clifton James

1920 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Clifton James (The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty)
Clifton James, a character actor who notably played Sheriff Pepper in two James Bond films, died Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Gladstone, Oregon, of diabetic complications, according to multiple news sources. He was 96.

James played Louisiana Sheriff J.W. Pepper in “Live and Let Die” (1973), opposite Roger Moore’s James Bond. The obnoxious lawman supplied a comic foil for the sophisticated spy and proved popular with audiences. He returned in the following film, “The Man With the Golden Gun” (1974), with Pepper joining Bond for a chase sequence while vacationing in Thailand.

He also played similar comic lawmen in “Silver Streak” (1976) and “Superman II” (1980) and played a Southern penitentiary floorwalker in “Cool Hand Luke” (1967).

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James was born May 29, 1920, in Spokane, Washington. The family moved to Gladstone, Oregon, during the Great Depression.

During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army in the South Pacific. He was decorated, receiving two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star.

After returning to the U.S., he began acting and moved to New York City, where he lived for much of his life. Despite frequently playing Southerners on TV and in movies, his closest personal association with the South was wintering in Florida.

James was preceded in death by his wife, Laurie, in 2015. He is survived by two sisters, five children, 14 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

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