Actor Sonny Landham, best known here for playing badass tracker Billy Sole in Predator, died yesterday in Lexington, Kentucky, at the age of 76.
Landham started his career starring in over a dozen adult films. He played a policeman in his first major mainstream role in Walter Hill's 1979 cult hit, The Warriors, and he starred in nearly 50 projects over his career. The Native American actor -- part Seminole, part Cherokee -- was known for his "tough guy" roles and performed frequently as a stuntsman.
In addition to Predator, Landham appeared in Poltergeist, Action Jackson, Maximum Force, Carnival of Wolves, and perhaps most famously as Billy Bear in Hill's 48 Hrs. Twelve years later, in 1996, Landham directed his only film, Billy Lone Bear, while also playing an entirely different Billy Bear -- a good cop hiding from an IRA assassin on a Native American reservation. His final credited role was 2009's direct-to-video horror flick, Mental Scars.
In addition to acting, Landham made several attempts at public office. In 2003, he ran for governor of Kentucky on the Republican ticket, but did not make it past the primaries. He ran briefly as an independent, but withdrew soon after. In 2008 he ran for a Senate seat on the Libertarian ticket, but after some derogatory comments he made about Arabs surfaced, the Kentucky Libertarians withdrew their support and kicked him off their party ticket, saying his "comments were not in keeping with the party's platform and values." His candidacy only lasted three days.
Landham died of congestive heart failure and is survived by his son William and daughter Priscilla.