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Tom Laughlin Diagnosed With Cancer

October 8, 2001

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Brawny actor Tom Laughlin, best known as the karate-kicking rebel from the ``Billy Jack″ cult movies, has been diagnosed with cancer that is inoperable because of a heart condition.

The 72-year-old star of the 1970s-era action-thrillers ``Billy Jack″ and ``The Trial of Billy Jack″ plans to visit clinics in Florida, Texas and Boston to seek alternate treatments for the cancer at the base of his tongue.

``It’s a real mystery because he doesn’t smoke or drink or do anything that would have caused this,″ family friend and spokeswoman Layne Wilson said Friday.

Doctors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center told the actor they could not operate on the cancer because he has a serious heart condition that makes surgery too risky.

An angiogram showed one of Laughlin’s arteries is completely clogged, while the others are 75 percent and 60 percent clogged.

Laughlin planned to undergo aggressive chemotherapy through an implant in his chest and throat, but cardiologists warned that his heart might not withstand the treatment, Wilson said.

The actor who played the half-Indian vigilante in the Billy Jack films lives near Santa Barbara with his wife and frequent co-star, Delores Taylor.

His other films include the 1975 John Wayne police drama ``Brannigan,″ 1978′s detective-thriller ``The Big Sleep″ and the 1994 sci-fi adventure ``No Escape.″

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