William Martin "Clu" Gulager (born November 16, 1928) is an American television and film actor and director. He first became known for his work in television, appearing in the co-starring role of William H. Bonney (Billy the Kid) in the 1960–62 NBC television series The Tall Man and as Emmett Ryker in another NBC Western series, The Virginian.
Gulager in 2015
William Martin Gulager
November 16, 1928
Miriam Byrd-Nethery Gulager
(m. 1960; her death 2003)
Gulager's first major film role was in Don Siegel's The Killers (1964), followed by a supporting part in the racing film Winning (1969) opposite Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward; in Peter Bogdanovich's drama The Last Picture Show (1971); and opposite John Wayne in McQ (1974). In the 1980s, Gulager appeared in several horror films, such as The Initiation (1984) and the zombie comedy The Return of the Living Dead (1985). In 2005, he appeared in the horror film Feast, as well as its sequels. He also appeared in the critically acclaimed independent film Tangerine (2015).
Gulager was born in Holdenville, Oklahoma, the son of John Delancy Gulager, who had been an actor before settling down to practice law in nearby Muskogee. His paternal grandmother, Martha Schrimsher Gulager, was a sister of Mary Scrimshaw, the mother of Will Rogers, making Gulager and Rogers first cousins, once removed. He has Cherokee Indian ancestry.
His Cherokee nickname was given to him by his father for the clu-clu birds (known in English as martins, like his middle name) that were nesting at the Gulager home at the time of his birth. From 1946 to 1948, Gulager served in the United States Marine Corps. After attending Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Gulager transferred to Baptist-affiliated Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He won a 1-year scholarship to study abroad, where he worked under Jean Louis Barrault, an internationally known French actor and director. In 1952, he returned to Baylor. In 1960, he married fellow actor Miriam Byrd Nethery, an Arkansan. The couple had two sons, including film director John Gulager, and remained married until her death in 2003.
In 1958, Gulager appeared as Roy Carter in the episode "The Return of Roy Carter" (written by Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek fame) in the Western television series Have Gun-Will Travel starring Richard Boone. In the spring of 1959, Gulager appeared as Tommy Pavlock in the episode "The Immigrant" of NBC's series The Lawless Years, a 1920s crime drama. In the fall of 1959, he appeared in the episode "The Temple of the Swinging Doll" of NBC's short-lived espionage drama Five Fingers, starring David Hedison.
On June 3, 1959, he guest-starred as the unscrupulous photographer Elliott Garrison in "The Andrew Hale Story" on NBC's Wagon Train. On October 11, 1959, Gulager appeared as a U.S. Navy sailor in the "Appointment at Eleven" episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and again as an escaped convict in "Pen Pal" on November 1, 1960. On The Untouchables, he played the role of real-life vicious mob killer Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll. Gulager was hailed for his utterly chilling performance as the psychopathic Coll. Late in 1959, he was cast as Beau Chandler in the episode "Jessie Quinn" of the NBC Western series Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin and Burt Reynolds. The episode is a tale of intrigue involving the Texas Revolution. Capt. Holden attempts to send weapons to Sam Houston, but forces of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in Mexico threaten to blow up Holden's vessel, the Enterprise.
From 1960-62, Gulager played Billy the Kid in The Tall Man opposite Barry Sullivan as Sheriff Pat Garrett. The episodes portray Billy as a sympathetic character without resorting to the "misunderstood young man" theme used in such films as The Outlaw and The Left Handed Gun. In 1961, Gulager guest-starred in another NBC Western, Whispering Smith, Audie Murphy's only attempt at series television. Gulager portrayed Deputy Sheriff Emmett Ryker from 1964 to 1968 on The Virginian, the 90-minute Western series in which he starred with James Drury, Doug McClure, Lee J. Cobb, Roberta Shore, Randy Boone, Gary Clarke, and Diane Roter. Gulager appeared more than 60 times in other roles in film and television, including the film Winning and the CBS series Three for the Road. He also appeared several times on NBC's Bonanza. He starred with Lee Marvin, Ronald Reagan, John Cassavetes, and Angie Dickinson in The Killers, teaming with Marvin as a pair of ruthless hit men.
Gulager appeared notably in The Last Picture Show (1971). In 1977, long after his role on The Virginian, he appeared in Rod Taylor's unsuccessful NBC Western series, The Oregon Trail, in the episode "The Army Deserter". Gulager also played the boss of Susan Sarandon in a 1977 film drama, The Other Side of Midnight. In 1981, he co-starred opposite Oscar Award-winner Jane Wyman, along with some newer younger actors Lorenzo Lamas, William R. Moses, and Jamie Rose, in the pilot episode of The Vintage Years (which was retooled as the primetime soap opera: Falcon Crest) for the male lead role of Angela Channing's long-suffering nephew, Chase Gioberti, when he was not rehired to continue with his role, hence, Robert Foxworth, took over the role, until his firing in 1987. He also appeared in his son John Gulager's Feast series of films as a shotgun-toting bartender, and had a role in the 2012 film Piranha 3DD. He was also a featured player in director John Landis' darkly comedic 1985 film noir satire, Into The Night, a film rife with insider Hollywood cameos, as an FBI agent, courier of a cache of clandestine funds, which he grudgingly delivers to secure the safety of the film's two romantic leads (Michelle Pfeiffer and Jeff Goldblum). In an example of the film's dry humor, their characters find they are not in a position to object as the agent/courier (Gulager) angrily pilfers as many packets of bills from the treasure trove as he can resentfully stuff into his pockets in plain sight of them, before leaving the bewildered pair in a huff.
He was cast as Burt Wilson in the Dan O'Bannon-directed 1985 cult classic, The Return of the Living Dead. In 2005, Gulager appeared in Feast, followed by the film's two sequels, Feast II: Sloppy Seconds (2008), and Feast III: The Happy Finish (2009), all of which were directed by his son, John. He also had a minor role in the critically acclaimed independent film Tangerine (2015).
|1966||And Now Miguel||Johnny|
|1967||Sullivan's Empire||Juan Clemente||Television film|
|1969||A Day with the Boys||N/A||Director|
|1971||The Last Picture Show||Abilene|
|1972||Molly and Lawless John||Deputy Tom Clements|
|1972||The Glass House||Officer Cortland||Television film|
|1972||Footsteps||Jonas Kane||Television film|
|1973||Call To Danger||Emmet Jergens||Television film|
|1974||Smile Jenny, You're Dead||Detective Milt Bosworth||Television film|
|1974||Houston, We've Got a Problem||Lou Matthews||Television film|
|1977||The Other Side of Midnight||Bill Fraser|
|1979||A Force of One||Dunne|
|1979||Willa||Joe Welch||Television film|
|1980||Kenny Rogers as The Gambler||Rufe Bennett||Television film|
|1980||Skyward||Steve Ward||Television film|
|1983||Living Proof: The Hank Williams Jr. Story||J.R. Smith||Television film|
|1984||Chattanooga Choo Choo||Sam|
|1984||The Initiation||Dwight Fairchild|
|1985||Into the Night||Federal Agent|
|1985||Prime Risk||Paul Minsky|
|1985||The Return of the Living Dead||Burt|
|1985||A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge||Mr. Walsh|
|1985||Bridge Across Time||Peter Dawson||Also known as: Terror at London Bridge|
|1986||Hunter's Blood||Mason Rand|
|1987||From a Whisper to a Scream||Stanley Burnside||Original title: The Offspring|
|1987||The Hidden||Lieutenant Ed Flynn|
|1988||I'm Gonna Git You Sucka||Lieutenant Baker|
|1988||Teen Vamp||The Reverend|
|1990||Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective||Desk Sergeant|
|1990||The Willies||Greeley Principal|
|1991||My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys||Dark Glasses|
|1993||In the Line of Duty: Ambush in Waco||McLennan County Sheriff||Television film|
|1994||Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter||Man #1|
|1999||Gunfighter||Uncle Buck Peters|
|2006||Vic||Vic Reeves||Short film|
|2008||Feast II: Sloppy Seconds||Bartender|
|2009||Feast III: The Happy Finish||Bartender|
|2015||Director's Commentary: Terror of Frankenstein||Gavin Merrill|
|2018||Children of the Corn: Runaway||Crusty|
|2018||Give Til It Hurts||Mr. Lawson|
|2019||Once Upon a Time in Hollywood||Book Store Owner|
|1956||The United States Steel Hour||Coker||Episode: "Bang the Drum Slowly"|
|1956||Goodyear Playhouse||Terrible||Episode: "Stardust II"|
|1957||Studio One in Hollywood||Lloyd Carpenter||Episode: "Walk Down the Hill"|
|1957||The Alcoa Hour||James Wesley||Episode: "15 October 1864"|
|1959||Black Saddle||Andy Meade||Episode: "Client: Meade"|
|1959||Playhouse 90||Zach||Episode: "The Day Before Atlanta"|
|1959||Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse||Young Vix||Episode: "The Day the Town Stood Up"|
|1959||Laramie||Private Gil Brady||Episode: "Fugitive Road"|
|1959||The Untouchables||Vincent “Mad dog” Coll||Vincent “Mad dog” Coll|
|1959||The Lawless Years||Tommy Pavolock||Episode: "The Immigrant"|
|1959||Have Gun – Will Travel||Roy Carter||Episode: "Return of Roy Carter"|
|1959||Wanted: Dead or Alive||Joe Collins||Episode: "Crossroads"|
|1959–64||Wagon Train||Various||5 episodes|
|1960||The Rebel||Virgil Taber||Episode: "Paint a House with Scarlet"|
|1959–60||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Rod Collins / Sailor||2 episodes|
|1960–62||The Tall Man||Billy the Kid||75 episodes|
|1962||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour||Jimmy K. Bresson||Episode: "Final Vow"|
|1963||The Virginian||Jake Carewe||Episode: "The Judgement"|
|1964||Kraft Suspense Theatre||Dan Walsh||Episode: "The Deep End"|
|1964||Dr. Kildare||Dr. Norman Gage||2 episodes|
|1968||The Virginian||Emmet Ryker||Episode: "Lost Yesterday"|
|1968–73||Ironside||Frank Clinton / D.W. Donnelly / Jack Brody||3 episodes|
|1969||The Survivors||Senator Mark Jennings||Episode: "Chapter Twelve"|
|1970||San Francisco International Airport||Bob Hatten||3 episodes|
|1971||The F.B.I.||Lyle Chernik||2 episodes|
|1971–75||Cannon||B.J. Long / Burdick / Jonathan Quill||3 episodes|
|1972||Bonanza||Billy Brenner||Episode: "Stallion"|
|1972||Mod Squad||Dustin Ellis||Episode: "Another Final Game"|
|1972||Medical Center||Jack||Episode: "The Choice"|
|1972–76||Hawaii Five-O||Arthur Lambert / Jack Gulley||2 episodes|
|1973||Kung Fu||Sheriff Rutledge||Episode: "Blood Brother"|
|1973||Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color||Keith Raynor||The Mystery In Dracula's Castle (Part 1–2)|
|1973–76||Barnaby Jones||Sheriff Mack Hollister / Mark Landy||2 episodes|
|1974||Shaft||Richard Quayle||Episode: "The Murder Machine"|
|1974||Get Christie Love!||Sheriff Burl Taggert||Episode: "Highway to Murder"|
|1974–75||Police Story||Officer Williams / Tim Keegan||2 episodes|
|1975||McCloud||Johnny Monahan||Episode: "Lady on the Run"|
|1975||The Streets of San Francisco||Inspector George Turner||Episode: "Poison Snow"|
|1976||Ellery Queen||Father Terrence Devlin / Captain Thomas G. Horton||2 episodes|
|1979||The MacKenzies of Paradise Cove||Cuda Weber||6 episodes|
|1981||Falcon Crest||Chase Gioberti||Episode: "Unaired Pilot"|
|1982||Quincy M.E.||Larry Krushevitz||Episode: "For Love of Joshua"|
|1982||CHiPs||Stoler||Episode: "The Game of War"|
|1982–86||The Fall Guy||Col. Halston / Osborne / Marv Jackson||3 episodes|
|1983||Automan||Rudolph Brock||Episode: "The Great Pretender"|
|1984||The Master||Mr. Christensen||Episode: "Max"|
|1985||Street Hawk||Will Gassner||Episode: "Fire on the Wing"|
|1985||Knight Rider||Eugene Hanson||Episode: "Buy Out"|
|1986||Airwolf||Cullen Dixon||Episode: "Day of Jeopardy"|
|1986||Magnum P.I.||Theo Wolf||Episode: "Way of the Stalking Horse"|
|1986||Simon & Simon||Nathan Sloan||Episode: "The Manual"|
|1986||North and South, Book II||Gen. Philip Henry Sheridan||Miniseries|
|1985–87||Murder, She Wrote||Ray Carter / Mike Gann / Carl Mestin||3 episodes|
|1988||MacGyver||Walt Kirby||Episode: "Thin Ice"|
|1995||Kung Fu: The Legend Continues||Deputy Clay Hardin||Episode: "Gunfighters"|
|1995||Beavis and Butt-Head||Anderson's War Buddy||Episode: "What's the Deal?"|
|1995||Walker, Texas Ranger||Duke Jamison||Episode: "Final Justice"|
|1996||Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman||Art McKendrick||Episode: "Medicine Man"|
Awards and nominations
- One source described John Gulager as a cowboy entertainer.
- Michener, Judith "Gulager, William Martin (1928 – )," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture; accessed August 25, 2016.
- Clu Gulager Biography, filmreference.com; accessed September 2, 2018.
- "Clu" Gulager profile, www.psychotronicvideo.com; accessed February 12, 2019.
- Conley, Robert J. A Cherokee Encyclopedia, University of Old Mexico Press, 2007. pg. 110.
- Profile, clugulager.com; accessed September 2, 2018.
- "Clu Gulager was insecure once, but not uncertain". Provo Daily Herald. January 23, 1967. Retrieved May 4, 2014.
- "www.falconcrest.org - Deutscher FALCON CREST - Fanclub / German FALCON CREST Fan Club". www.falconcrest.org.
- Powers, John (July 7, 2015). "Why Tangerine Is the Most Unlikely Hit of the Year". Vogue. Retrieved March 20, 2018.