J T Walsh (James Thomas Walsh)

J T Walsh

J T Walsh

He is best remembered for his role of Sergeant Major Dickerson in “Good Morning, Vietnam” (1987) and for his role of Big Bob in “Pleasantville” (1998). Born John Patrick Walsh in San Francisco, California, he attended a Jesuit boarding school in Ireland. After returning from studying at Clongowes Wood College in Ireland, he attended the University of Rhode Island where he starred in many college theater productions. He was also President of the local chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), an anti-Vietnam War radical student movement of the 1960s. Upon graduation, he worked at a series of odd jobs, including social worker, encyclopedia salesman, junior high school teacher, reporter, and bartender. In 1974, he was discovered working in off-Broadway shows, and offered a chance to go to Hollywood. He intended to use his own initials as his stage name, but during a casting call, his name was mistyped as J.T. and he decided to stay with that instead of J.P. His first movie role came in 1983, with his minor role of the man in the bar scene in “Eddy Macon’s Run.” After that, he was offered feature film roles, often playing the bad guy. He often played white-collar bad guys in such films as “Power” (1986), “Hannah and her Sisters” (1986), “The Big Picture” (1989), “The Gifters” (1990), “Good Morning, Vietnam” (1991). He played Union leader Frank Fitzsimmons in “Hoffa” (1992), and a Marine officer who discovers he has a conscience in “A Few Good Men” (1992), and in an uncredited role as White House Chief of Staff in “Outbreak” (1995). Before his death, he had hoped to play more complicated and substantial character roles, rather than the cowards and bullies that he had been typecast in. In his last year, he played in three movies, “Hidden Agenda” (1998), “The Negotiator” (1998), and “Pleasantville” (1998), but it was his last movie for which he is most often remembered. Jack Nicholson dedicated his Best Actor Oscar Award in March 1998 for “As Good As It Gets” (1997) to Walsh. Walsh had died of a heart attack in La Mesa, California, on February 27, 1998.

Born

  • September, 28, 1943
  • San Francisco, California

Died

  • February, 27, 1998
  • Lemon Grove, California

Cause of Death

  • heart attack

Cemetery

    Other

    • Cremated, Ashes given to family

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