Will Sampson

Will Sampson

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Will Sampson was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 actor
Actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

 and artist
Artist
An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only...

.

Life and career


Sampson, a Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 Muscogee (Creek)
Creek people
The Muscogee , also known as the Creek or Creeks, are a Native American people traditionally from the southeastern United States. Mvskoke is their name in traditional spelling. The modern Muscogee live primarily in Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida...

, was born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma
Okmulgee, Oklahoma
Okmulgee is a city in Okmulgee County, Oklahoma, United States. The population at the 2010 census was 12,321 a loss of 5.4 percent since the 2000 census figure of 13,022. It has been the capital of the Muscogee Nation since the United States Civil War. Okmulgee means "boiling waters" in the Creek...

. Sampson's most notable roles were as "Chief Bromden" in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (film)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 American drama film directed by Miloš Forman and based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey....

and as "Taylor the Medicine Man" in the horror film Poltergeist II. He had a recurring role on the TV series Vega$
Vega$
Vega$ is an American detective television drama series that aired on ABC between 1978 and 1981. It was produced by Aaron Spelling. The series, was filmed in its entirety in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is believed to be the first television series produced entirely in Las Vegas...

, as Harlon Twoleaf and starred in the movies Fish Hawk, The Outlaw Josey Wales
The Outlaw Josey Wales
The Outlaw Josey Wales is a 1976 American revisionist Western film set during and after the end of the American Civil War. It was directed by and starred Clint Eastwood , with Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Sam Bottoms, and Geraldine Keams.The film was adapted by Sonia Chernus and Philip Kaufman...

and Orca
Orca (film)
Orca is a 1977 horror film directed by Michael Anderson and produced by Dino De Laurentiis, starring Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling, and Will Sampson. The film was poorly received by critics and audiences alike due in part to its similarities to the film Jaws released two years prior...

.

Sampson appeared in the production of Black Elk Speaks
Black Elk Speaks
Black Elk Speaks is a 1932 book by John G. Neihardt, an American poet and writer, who relates the story and spirituality of Black Elk, an Oglala Sioux medicine man or shaman. It was based on conversations by Black Elk with the author and translated from Lakota into English by Black Elk's son, Ben...

with the American Indian Theater Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma where David Carradine
David Carradine
David Carradine was an American actor and martial artist, best known for his role as a warrior monk, Kwai Chang Caine, in the 1970s television series, Kung Fu, which later had a 1990s sequel series, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues...

 and other Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 actors like Wes Studi
Wes Studi
Wesley "Wes" Studi is a Cherokee actor, who has earned notability for his portrayal of Native Americans in film. He has appeared in well-received Academy Award-winning films, such as Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves, Michael Mann's The Last of the Mohicans, the award-winning Geronimo: An...

 and Randolph Mantooth
Randolph Mantooth
Randolph Donald Mantooth is an American character actor of stage, film and television. Mantooth is best known for his work in the 1970s medical drama, Emergency!, as Johnny Gage, a Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedic...

 starred in stage productions.

Sampson was also an artist. His large painting depicting the Ribbon Dance of his Muscogee
Creek people
The Muscogee , also known as the Creek or Creeks, are a Native American people traditionally from the southeastern United States. Mvskoke is their name in traditional spelling. The modern Muscogee live primarily in Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida...

 people is in the collection of the Creek Council House Museum in Okmulgee, Oklahoma
Okmulgee, Oklahoma
Okmulgee is a city in Okmulgee County, Oklahoma, United States. The population at the 2010 census was 12,321 a loss of 5.4 percent since the 2000 census figure of 13,022. It has been the capital of the Muscogee Nation since the United States Civil War. Okmulgee means "boiling waters" in the Creek...

. His artwork is currently displayed online by The Kvskvnv (“kuskuna”) Association.

In an interview in TV Ontario's series Film 101, “Hollywood Asylum, Explored or Exploited?”, film actor Brad Dourif
Brad Dourif
Bradford Claude "Brad" Dourif is an American film and television actor who gained early fame for his portrayal of Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and has since appeared in a number of memorable roles, including the voice of Chucky in the Child's Play franchise, Younger Brother in...

 (who played Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (film)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 American drama film directed by Miloš Forman and based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey....

) stated that Sampson had been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. After he was pardoned, after serving ten years, his release came without apology or compensation. Sampson reportedly observed the cast on set and noted, based on behavior, that only he and Dourif truly understood what it meant to be institutionalized.

Death


In need of a heart and liver transplant, he died on June 3, 1987, of post-operative kidney
Kidney
The kidneys, organs with several functions, serve essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and...

 failure and pre-operative malnutrition problems. Sampson was 53 years old. He was buried in Hitchita's Graves Creek Cemetery.

Filmography

Film
Year Film Role Other notes
1975 Crazy Mama
Crazy Mama (film)
Crazy Mama is a 1975 film directed by Jonathan Demme and produced by Julie Corman.Cloris Leachman stars, with Dennis Quaid and Bill Paxton seen briefly in two of their earliest roles....

Indian at Trading Uncredited Role
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (film)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 American drama film directed by Miloš Forman and based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey....

Chief Bromden
1976 Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson
Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson
Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson is a 1976 revisionist Western directed by Robert Altman and based on the play Indians by Arthur Kopit. It stars Paul Newman as William F...

The Interpreter/William Halsey
The Outlaw Josey Wales
The Outlaw Josey Wales
The Outlaw Josey Wales is a 1976 American revisionist Western film set during and after the end of the American Civil War. It was directed by and starred Clint Eastwood , with Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Sam Bottoms, and Geraldine Keams.The film was adapted by Sonia Chernus and Philip Kaufman...

Ten Bears
Ten Bears
Chief Ten Bears - born Paruasemana , became the paraivo or chief of the Ketahto local group of Native Americans, and later the Principal Chief of the northern Yamparika or "Root Eater" division of the Numunuu Comanche, ca. 1850-60...

1977 Cowboysan Indian Chief Short film
The White Buffalo
The White Buffalo
The White Buffalo is a 1977 western film starring Charles Bronson, Kim Novak, Jack Warden, Slim Pickens, and Will Sampson. The movie is rated PG in the USA. The film is directed by J. Lee Thompson, who frequently teamed with Bronson. It was also the final film Bronson made for United...

Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse
Crazy Horse was a Native American war leader of the Oglala Lakota. He took up arms against the U.S...

/Worm
Orca
Orca (film)
Orca is a 1977 horror film directed by Michael Anderson and produced by Dino De Laurentiis, starring Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling, and Will Sampson. The film was poorly received by critics and audiences alike due in part to its similarities to the film Jaws released two years prior...

Umilak
1979 Fish Hawk Fish Hawk
1985 Insignificance
Insignificance (film)
Insignificance is a 1985 motion picture drama/comedy directed by Nicolas Roeg, produced by Jeremy Thomas and Alexander Stuart, and adapted by Terry Johnson from his play of the same name. The film is set in 1954, with most of the action taking place in a hotel room in New York City...

Elevator Attendant
1986 Poltergeist II: The Other Side
Poltergeist II: The Other Side
Poltergeist II: The Other Side is a 1986 horror film. A sequel to Poltergeist, it features the return of the original's family and once again sees a spirit trying to harm their daughter, Carol Anne. It received mixed reviews from critics and did not gross as much at the box office as its...

Taylor
Firewalker
Firewalker (film)
Firewalker is a 1986 action/adventure B-movie starring Chuck Norris, Louis Gossett, Jr., Will Sampson and Melody Anderson. It was directed by J. Lee Thompson and written by Norman Aladjem, Robert Gosnell and Jeffrey M. Rosenbaum...

Tall Eagle
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1977 Relentless Sam Watchman CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 TV-Movie
Television movie
A television film is a feature film that is a television program produced for and originally distributed by a television network, in contrast to...

The Hunted Lady Uncle George NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 TV-Movie
Television movie
A television film is a feature film that is a television program produced for and originally distributed by a television network, in contrast to...

1978 Standing Tall Lonny Moon NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 TV-Movie
Television movie
A television film is a feature film that is a television program produced for and originally distributed by a television network, in contrast to...

1978–1979 Vega$
Vega$
Vega$ is an American detective television drama series that aired on ABC between 1978 and 1981. It was produced by Aaron Spelling. The series, was filmed in its entirety in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is believed to be the first television series produced entirely in Las Vegas...

Harlon Two-Leaf 6 episodes
1979 From Here to Eternity
From Here to Eternity (TV series)
From Here to Eternity was a six-hour 1979 television mini-series, followed by a thirteen episode 1980 television series.The mini-series was a remake of the 1953 film From Here to Eternity and based on the 1951 novel of the same name...

Sgt. Cheney NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 Miniseries
Miniseries
A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

 later adapted to TV series
1980 Alcatraz: The White Shocking Story Clarence's Father NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 TV-Movie
Television movie
A television film is a feature film that is a television program produced for and originally distributed by a television network, in contrast to...

1982 Born to the Wind Painted Bear
1983–1984 The Yellow Rose
The Yellow Rose
The Yellow Rose is an American television series. It was broadcast on the NBC network during the 1983-1984 season. It was produced by Paul Freeman....

John Strongheart 7 episodes
1984 The Mystic Warrior Evan Freed ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 Miniseries
Miniseries
A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

1985 Wildside Fake Sitting Bull Episode: Buffalo Who?
1986 Roanoak Wingina Miniseries
Miniseries
A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

Tall Tales & Legends
Tall Tales & Legends
Tall Tales & Legends is a series created by Shelley Duvall, following her success with her first series, Faerie Tale Theatre. It ran from 1985-1987 on Showtime and comprised nine episodes, adapted from various American-based stories of bravery....

Chief Episode: Johnny Appleseed
1987 The Gunfighters Train Passenger TV-Movie
Television movie
A television film is a feature film that is a television program produced for and originally distributed by a television network, in contrast to...


Awards and nominations


Genie Award
Genie Award
Genie Awards are given out to recognize the best of Canadian cinema by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. From 1949-1979, the awards were named the Canadian Film Awards...

  • 1980: Nominated, "Best Performance by a Foreign Actor" - Fish Hawk

External links