Clifton James, a character actor who notably played Sheriff Pepper in two James Bond films, died Saturday, Apr. 15, 2017, in Gladstone, Ore., due to complications from diabetes, according to multiple news sources. He was 96.
James played Louisiana Sheriff J.W. Pepper in “Live and Let Die” (1973), opposite Roger Moore’s James Bond. The obnoxious lawman was a humorous foil for the sophisticated spy and proved to be popular with audiences. He returned in the following film, “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974), with Pepper joining Bond for a chase sequence while vacationing in Thailand.
He also played similar comic lawmen in “Silver Streak” (1976) and “Superman II” (1980), and played a southern penitentiary floor-walker in “Cool Hand Luke” (1967).
James was born May 29, 1920 in Spokane, Washington. The family moved to Gladstone, Oregon during the Great Depression.
During World War II he served in the U.S. Army in the South Pacific. He was decorated, receiving two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star.
After returning to the U.S. he began acting and moved to New York City, where he lived for much of his life. Despite frequently playing southerners on TV and in movies, his closest personal association with the south was wintering in Florida.
James was preceded in death by his wife, Laurie, who died in 2015. He is survived by two sisters, five children, 14 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.