Powers Boothe, a character actor who appeared in films like Sin City and TV shows including Deadwood and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., died this morning in his sleep of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles. He was 68.
His friend, actor Beau Bridges, tweeted the news this afternoon:
It’s with great sadness that I mourn the passing of my friend Powers Boothe. A dear friend, great actor, devoted father & husband.
— Beau Bridges (@MrBeauBridges) May 14, 2017
A private service will be held in Boothe’s home state of Texas, with a memorial celebration under consideration as well. Donations can be made to the Gary Sinise Foundation, which honors the nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need.
Boothe, the youngest of three boys, was born on a farm in Snyder, the seat of Scurry County, Texas, to Emily Kathryn (née Reeves) and Merrill Vestal Boothe, a rancher.
After graduating from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, Boothe joined the repertory company of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, with roles in Henry IV, Part 2 (portraying Henry IV of England), Troilus and Cressida, and others.
His New York stage debut was in the 1974 Lincoln Center production of Richard III. Five years later, his Broadway theater debut came in a starring role in the one-act play Lone Star, written by James McLure.
Boothe first came to national attention in 1980, playing Jim Jones in the CBS-TV movie Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones. Boothe’s portrayal of the crazed cult leader received critical acclaim.
In Time’s story on the production, Boothe was praised: “There is one extraordinary performance. A young actor named Powers Boothe captures all the charisma and evil of ‘Dad’, Jim Jones.” Boothe won the Emmy Award for his role, beating out veterans Henry Fonda and Jason Robards.
As the Screen Actors Guild were on strike in the fall of 1980, he was the only actor to cross picket lines to attend the ceremonies, saying at the time, “This may be either the bravest moment of my career or the dumbest.”
Powers Boothe made an appearance during the 1987 Celebrity Golf Challenge for Charity where he made the current long drive record for celebrities of 490 yards. For these efforts, Boothe was awarded the Golden Pumpkin, but, because of scheduling conflicts, he could not receive the award in person.
Boothe joined the ranks of Humphrey Bogart and other actors when he portrayed Philip Marlowe in a series of short films for HBO in the 1980s. He appeared in such films as Southern Comfort, A Breed Apart, Red Dawn, The Emerald Forest and Extreme Prejudice, as well as the HBO films Into the Homeland and By Dawn’s Early Light.
Additionally, he appeared in the 1990 CBS-TV film Family of Spies, in which he played traitor Navy Officer John Walker. Boothe portrayed Curly Bill Brocius in the hit 1993 Western Tombstone, the disloyal senior Army officer in Blue Sky (opposite Jessica Lange’s Oscar-winning performance), and the sinister lead terrorist in Sudden Death. He was also part of the large ensemble casts for Oliver Stone’s Nixon (as Chief of Staff Alexander Haig) and U Turn (as the town sheriff).
In 2001, he starred as Flavius Aëtius, the Roman general in charge of stopping the Hun invasion in the made-for-TV miniseries Attila.
Boothe played a featured role as brothel-owner Cy Tolliver on the HBO series Deadwood, and the seedy Senator Roark in the motion picture Sin City (2005), as well as its sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014). He is the voice of one of the characters in the 2005 video game Area 51 and of Gorilla Grodd, the hyper-intelligent telepathic supervillain in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. He voiced the villain, Kane, in the 2008 video game Turok.
He was a special guest star on 24, where he played Vice President Noah Daniels. He returned in the prequel to the seventh season, 24: Redemption. Just after taking the role as acting President, Boothe is seen exiting Air Force Two with F-15s in the background. Boothe played a downed F-15 pilot in Red Dawn.
In March 2008, he narrated a television campaign ad for Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign. He maintains a private art collection which includes Western paintings of his friend and fellow actor Buck Taylor.
In 2012, Boothe appeared in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers in a secretive role as a shadowy governmental superior to S.H.I.E.L.D. in 2015-16, he reprised the role, now named Gideon Malick, in ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Boothe appeared in the 2012 miniseries Hatfields & McCoys as Judge Valentine “Wall” Hatfield. Boothe was also cast as Lamar Wyatt in the ABC musical drama series Nashville.
Boothe also lent his voice to Hitman: Absolution, a 2012 video game developed by IO Interactive, voicing the character of Benjamin Travis.
Boothe married his college sweetheart Pam in 1969, and they had two children: Parisse and Preston. He died in his sleep on the morning of May 14, 2017 from natural causes. He was 68.