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'70s actor Sam Bottoms of Apocolypse Now fame dies



Actor portrayed surf star Lance Johnson

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 19 December, 2008 : - - Sam Bottoms, who contributed key supporting roles in the classic '70s bookends The Last Picture Show and Apocalypse Now, died Tuesday from a brain tumor. He was 53.

Bottoms's film debut in The Last Picture Show occurred after director Peter Bogdanovich observed the 15-year-old knocking around the set with his big brother Tim; "Mr. Bogdanovich gave him the role of Billy, the retarded boy who sweeps the streets of his dusty Texas town," sensitively reports today's NYT, though Billy was more mute than retarded, but why split hairs?

Bottoms later joined Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josey Wales before taking off to the Phillipines for what would become his best-known role, as surfing champion-turned-burnout 'Nam infantryman Lance Johnson in Apocalypse Now.

Mostly television, B-movies and indies occupied the next three decades, with his final performance coming in last year's Bruce Lee mockumentary Finishing the Game. He was married to Laura Bickford, the producer of Traffic, Fur and Che; they worked together on the 2005 family dramedy Winter Passing.

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