Actor Sonny Landham, best known for his roles in the 1980s action movies “Predator,” “48 Hrs.” and “Lock Up,” died Thursday from congestive heart failure in Lexington, Ky. He was 76.
Landham’s sister Dawn Boehler confirmed his passing to the Associated Press.
Born in Canton, Ga., the 6-foot-4 actor and stuntman got his start in Hollywood in X-rated films before landing a small role in Walter Hill’s 1979 street gang cult classic “The Warriors.”
Hill cast him again two years later in “Southern Comfort,” then gave him a meatier role in his 1982 action comedy “48 Hrs.” Landham, who was part-Cherokee and part-Seminole, played Billy Bear, one of two outlaws on the run from a San Francisco detective and his reluctant convict accomplice, played respectively by Nick Nolte and “accomplice” Eddie Murphy.
Landham subsequently appeared in action films such as “Firewalker,” “Action Jackson,” and “Best of the Best 2,” and menaced Sylvester Stallone in the prison drama “Lock Up.”
Perhaps his best-known role was as the tracker Billy Sole in “Predator,” opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Frustrated by the lack of roles for Native American performers in Hollywood, Landham criticized the industry’s lack of inclusion at the height of his acting career.
“I’m an actor who happens to be an Indian,” he told United Press International in 1987. “Not an Indian trying to be an actor.”
He would later follow Schwarzenegger into politics, waging unsuccessful campaigns as a Republican for governor of Kentucky and U.S. Senate. In 2008, Landham’s anti-Arab comments lost him the Libertarian Party‘s backing for U.S. Senate.
“Sonny Landham was such a joy to work with on ‘Predator,'” Schwarzenegger tweeted Friday. “So talented, so fun to be around. We’ll miss him. My thoughts are with his family.”