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Actor J.T. Walsh Dies

February 28, 1998

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ J.T. Walsh, a skilled character actor who appeared in such films as ``A Few Good Men″ and ``Sling Blade,″ died of a heart attack while on vacation. He was 54.

Walsh, known for playing cowardly villains, died Friday at Grossmont Hospital after falling ill at a San Diego-area resort, publicist Cynthia Snyder said.

``The paramedics came and weren’t able to revive him,″ she said.

Walsh appeared in nearly 60 films and became known for playing ethically challenged men, such as Jack Nicholson’s suicidal lieutenant colonel in 1992′s ``A Few Good Men″ and Sgt. Major Dickerson in 1987′s ``Good Morning, Vietnam.″

In 1996, he portrayed mental patient Charles Bushman in Billy Bob Thornton’s acclaimed ``Sling Blade,″ and most recently he appeared in ``Breakdown,″ playing bad guy Red Barr opposite Kurt Russell.

Walsh recently completed work on ``Pleasantville″ with Jeff Daniels and Joan Allen, and ``The Negotiator″ with Samuel L. Jackson.

Walsh’s film credits also include ``House of Games,″ ``The Grifters,″ ``Backdraft,″ ``The Client,″ and ``Executive Decision.″

As a child, the San Francisco-born Walsh was a student at a Jesuit boarding school in Ireland. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and went on to work as a social worker, encyclopedia salesman, junior high school teacher and reporter before becoming a full-time actor at 31.

Walsh, who had been active in community theater, was discovered by a director in 1974 and began working in off-Broadway shows. He met playwright David Mamet in 1976 and won a role in the first performance of ``American Buffalo.″

Walsh, an avid reader who spoke fluent German got his big break when he was cast in another Mamet play, ``Glengarry Glen Ross,″ on Broadway in 1984. The role brought him to the attention of Hollywood casting agents, and four years later, he moved to Los Angeles, where he lived with his son, TV production assistant John West.

Walsh is survived by his son, a brother and two sisters.

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