Actor Anthony James of ‘Unforgiven’ Fame Passes Away at 77
Hollywood is in mourning this week after Anthony James, a noted character actor who starred in such critically renowned films as Unforgiven and In The Heat Of The Night, has died at the age of 77.
The death of James, whose real name was Jimmy Anthony, was confirmed by an obituary announcement posted by a funeral home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This obituary notice stated that he died of cancer this past Tuesday.
Born in South Carolina in 1942, James dreamed of being a movie star ever since he was a child, so when he turned 18, he “persuaded his mother that they had to go to Hollywood,” according to his obituary. It adds that “with almost no money, the two of them took a train to L.A. His mother cleaned houses and Jimmy got a ‘scholarship’ to an acting class which he paid for by cleaning bathrooms.”
James finally got his big break when he was 26 years-old in the 1967 movie “In the Heat of the Night,” which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards that year. From there, he launched a successful career as a character actor, garnering 74 credits in film and television over his 26 year career.
His final role came in the 1992 Clint Eastwood movie Unforgiven, in which he portrayed Skinny Dubois, a contentious brothel owner. Fittingly, this movie also went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture.,
Following Unforgiven, James retired and left Hollywood for good to move to New England, where he shifted to focusing on his paintings. He found great success as an artist, with his work being sold in galleries across the U.S. and Japan.
In addition, James was a successful poet, with his poems being featured in the 1994 book “Language of the Heart,” which also included his paintings. In 2014, he published his memoir “Acting My Face,” lovingly dedicating it to his mother who dropped everything years before to help him fulfill his dream of becoming an actor.
When asked why he chose to give his memoir this title, James said, “I never considered myself a celebrity, just a sometime recognizable face.”
James’ obituary states that he never married or had children, but he’s survived by many dear friends.