Gregory Walcott - Rotten Tomatoes

Gregory Walcott



A top-flight character actor and sometime leading man, Gregory Walcott managed to bridge the tail-end of the studio system, the heyday of series television, and the boom years of the post-studio 1970s, and carve a notable career in the process. He was born Bernard Mattox in 1928 (some sources say 1932) in Wendell, NC, a small town about 10 miles east of the state capitol of Raleigh. After serving in the Army following the end of the Second World War, he decided to try for an acting career and hitchhiked his way to California. He managed to get work in amateur and semi-professional theatrical productions and was lucky enough to be spotted in a small role in one of these by an agent. That resulted in his big-screen debut, in an uncredited role in the 20th Century-Fox drama Red Skies of Montana (1952). With his 6'-plus height, impressive build, and deep voice, Walcott would seem to have a major career in front of him, but the movie business of the 1950s was in a state of constant retrenchment, battling the intrusion of television and the eroding of its audience. For the next three years, he had little but bit parts in films, some of them major productions. His performance as the drill instructor in the opening section of Raoul Walsh's Battle Cry (1955) was good enough to get him a contract with Warner Bros. He subsequently played supporting roles in Mister Roberts (1955) and in independent productions such as Badman's Country (1958), and also started showing up on television with some regularity. And with each new role, he seemed to gather momentum in his career.



As luck would have it, however, Walcott's most prominent role of the 1950s ended up being the one he received the lowest fee for doing, and that he also thought the least of, and also one that, for decades, he was loathe to discuss, on or off the record: as Jeff Trent, the hero of Plan 9 From Outer Space. Walcott's work on the magnum opus of writer/producer/director Edward D. Wood, Jr. amounted to less than a week's work, and he was so busy in those days that one can easily imagine him forgetting about it as soon as his end of the shoot was over. And the movie was scarcely even seen on its initial release in the summer of 1959 and went to television in the early '60s in a package that usually had it relegated to "shock theater" showcases and the late-night graveyard (no pun intended). But the ultra-low-budget production, renowned for its eerily, interlocking values of ineptitude and entertainment, has become one of the most widely viewed (and deeply analyzed) low-budget movies of any era in the decades since.



As this oddity in his career was starting to gather its fans (some would say fester), Walcott had long since moved on to co-starring in the series 87th Precinct and guest-starring roles in series television. Across the 1960s, he remained busy and had a chance to do especially good work on the series Bonanza, which gave him major guest-starring roles in seven episodes between 1960 and 1972. In one of these, "Song in the Dark" (1962), Walcott even had a chance to show off his singing voice, a talent of his that was otherwise scarcely recognized in a three-decade career. By the late '60s, he had also moved into production work, producing and starring in Bill Wallace of China (1967), the story of a Christian missionary. During the 1970s, Walcott finally started to get movie roles that were matched in prominence to his talent, most especially in the films of Clint Eastwood. He remained busy as a prominent character actor and supporting player -- part of that category of performers that includes the likes of Richard Herd and James Cromwell -- into the 1980s. He had retired by the start of the 1990s, but was called before the cameras once more for an appearance in Tim Burton's movie Ed Wood. Walcott died in 2015, at age 87.

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood Jr.
  • Actor
1996
No Score Yet Ed Wood Story, The: The Plan 9 Companion
  • Actor
1995
92% Ed Wood
  • Potential Backer
1994
0% House II: The Second Story
  • Sheriff
1987
No Score Yet To Race the Wind
  • Actor
1980
No Score Yet Tilt
  • Mr. Davenport
1979
90% Norma Rae
  • Lamar Miller
1979
31% Every Which Way But Loose
  • Putman
1978
No Score Yet Donner Pass: The Road to Survival
  • Will McKutcheon
1978
54% Midway
  • Capt. Elliott Buckmaster
1976
69% The Eiger Sanction
  • Pope
1975
87% Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
  • Used Car Salesman
1974
91% The Sugarland Express
  • Off. Mashburn
1974
No Score Yet The Last American Hero
  • Cleve Morley
1973
No Score Yet E poi lo chiamarono il magnifico, (A Man from the East )
  • Bull Schmidt
1972
70% Prime Cut
  • Weenie
1972
86% Joe Kidd
  • Sheriff Mitchell
1972
No Score Yet Captain Newman, M.D.
  • Capt. Howard
1963
No Score Yet On the Double
  • Col. Rock Houston
1961
No Score Yet The Outsider
  • Sgt. Kiley
1961
67% Plan 9 from Outer Space
  • Jeff Trent
1959
No Score Yet The Lieutenant Wore Skirts
  • Lt. Sweeney
1956
No Score Yet Texas Lady
  • Deputy Jess Foley
1955
92% Mister Roberts
  • Shore Patrolman
1955
No Score Yet Strange Lady in Town
  • Scanlon
1955
No Score Yet Battle Cry
  • Sgt. Jim Beller
1955
100% The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell
  • Reporter Millikan
1955
No Score Yet The McConnell Story
  • 1st MP
1955
No Score Yet Above and Beyond
  • Burns
1952
No Score Yet Red Skies of Montana
  • Randy
1952

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT
No Score Yet Little House on the Prairie
1974-1984
  • Slick McBurney
No Score Yet CHiPs
1977-1983
  • Derek

Quotes from Gregory Walcott's Characters