L.Q. Jones, Legendary Western Actor, Dead at 94

by Craig Garrett
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L.Q. Jones, the tall, gruff actor best known for parts in westerns and tough-guy roles, has passed away at age 94. Variety reports that Jones died of natural causes at his Hollywood Hills home earlier today.

The lanky, craggy-faced actor of film and television was frequently cast in Westerns, war films, and other tough-guy entertainment that was so popular in the 1950s and early 1960s. L.Q. Jones, who took his stage name from his first film part in Raoul Walsh’s Battle Cry (1954), collaborated with some of the most renowned action filmmakers. Don Siegel’s Flaming Star (1960) and even an Elvis Presley Westerns are among his career highlights. Jones also appeared in Hell Is for Heroes (1962), a Steve McQueen-starring WWII epic. He became a frequent collaborator with the legendary Sam Peckinpah. Jones starred in Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country (1962), The Wild Bunch (1969), and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973).

L.Q. Jones also appeared in iconic classic TV westerns such as Rawhide and The Virginian. He also appeared in series such as Annie OakleyRin Tin TinThe RebelThe RiflemanHave Gun Will Travel and Laramie

“I was regular on about seven Westerns,” he told True West Magazine in 2021. L.Q. Jones was a regular player on The Virginian. He played ranch hand, Beldon. “We became a family. We were putting on a new Virginian every other week. You had two weeks to make an hour-and-a-half show, which is a full motion picture.”

L.Q. Jones also directed a cult hit Sci-Fi film

Jones directed and wrote the cult classic A Boy and His Dog (1975), which he also produced. The feature is based on Harlan Ellison’s award-winning novella. In the far future, when most of humanity has been destroyed, a young man uses a telepathic canine in order to scour for food and resources. Jones made effective use of his restricted funds by filming in deserts and other remote places, conveying both the suffering and desolation of the locale. Furthermore, he got a superb performance out of Don Johnson and some respectability by including the legendary Jason Robards in a minor role. A Boy and His Dog has earned a cult classic status over time, with Jones claiming that director George Miller cited it as an influence for his “Mad Max” films.

Jones returned to acting and appeared in films such as Lone Wolf McQuade (1982) and an Australian Western, Lightning Jack (1994). In 1998, L.Q. Jones would star in The Mask of Zorro. He felt the action western brought his career full circle from his violent Peckinpah days. “We didn’t know it while it was taking place, but when we did The Wild Bunch, it changed the way the pictures were accepted, changed them 180 degrees. And, oddly enough, I happened to be in another picture, The Mask of Zorro, that changed it back.” 

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