Syfy Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
SYFY WIRE obituary

Effortlessly menacing character actor Billy Drago dies at 73

By Christian Long
Billy Drago

Billy Drago, a career character actor with a penchant for playing shifty-eyed nogoodniks, has died at the age of 73. The actor passed away Monday at his home in Los Angeles, California, according to The Hollywood Reporter

With more than 100 acting credits to his name, Drago often seamlessly shifted between prestige projects and B-grade grindhouse fodder, with his trademark charisma in-tow every time. He also made a considerable mark in the world of genre over his 40-year career.

As far as his recurring roles, he played the eccentric Barbas, The Demon of Fear on the original Charmedas well as outlaw John Bly in the beloved The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. He also had several one-off roles in series like The X-Files, Masters of Horror, and Supernatural

He was equally busy on the big screen, playing radioactive mutant leader Papa Jupiter in the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes, sharing the screen with Grace Jones in the '80s horror-comedy Vamp, and the mysterious Preacher the 2011 sequel Children of the Corn: Genesis (pictured in the header image). 

One of his final roles was as Shauna the Chief in the 2013 horror Night of the Templar, where he starred alongside David Carradine, Udo Kier, and The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus. 

Outside of genre, Drago's most memorable performance was his portrayal of real-life, white suit-wearing gangster Frank Nitti in Brian DePalma's 1987 crime epic The Untouchables. He also co-starred as Deputy Mather in Clint Eastwood's 1985 Western Pale Rider

Born in 1946, Drago got his start as a journalist with the Associated Press in his native Kansas. After becoming a fixture on local radio, he did a stint with a touring theater group, which led him to acting full time. 

Drago is survived by his sister Patty, his brother Steve, and his two sons, actor Darren Burrows and Derrick Burrows, as well as several grandchildren.