Bob Elkins, ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ Actor, Dies at 89

by Jonathan Howard
Loretta Lynn and Sissy Spacek during 53rd Annual Academy Awards' Governor's Ball at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Bob Elkins, the son of a coal miner who played a quick but important role in Coal Miner’s Daughter, has died at age 89. The news was confirmed by the Hollywood Reporter. Elkins, who spent much of his life in and around the Cincinnati area, died in Cold Spring, Kentucky. His publicist made the announcement. He was living in a nursing home at the time of his death.

Of course, his role as Bobby Day is his most notable. The biopic on Loretta Lynn‘s life starred Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. In 1980, the film was nominated for Best Picture and has lived on as one of the best music biopics ever made. In his role, Elkins delivered one of the most important parts of the entire story. He was the DJ that gave Loretta a chance.

Elkins had an interesting life. He was born in West Virginia, raised partly in Indiana, and then came to reside in Covington, Kentucky. There, just south of Cincinnati he grew up before shipping out with the Navy at 18, during the early part of the Korean War. Through his time in service, the actor battled dyslexia, eventually improving his reading abilities.

After his years in the Navy, Elkins came back to the greater Cincinnati area and started to look for the next thing. Like many servicemen in the 1940s and 50s, he came back and found acting. He was an avid fan of film and took a class as an actor. Within a year, Elkins had already landed jobs in commercials and soon after, TV shows.

It took 20 years or so for his big break and it was one to remember. And on the day Bob Elkins dies, it’s a great one to remember.

Bob Elkins Dies at 89, Remembered for His Talent on Stage, Film, and TV

The son of a coal miner being cast in a movie about not just a coal miner’s daughter… the Coal Miner’s Daughter. It’s just a perfect fit. Elkins worked on the stage and on TV commercials for a while. Then, in 1980 he landed his role as Bobby Day. As the DJ that gave Lynn her big break, it really is all too fitting that this was his big break in the film industry.

Over the course of the years, Elkins found work in other shows and films. He was part of James Cameron’s Expedition Bismarck on Discovery in 2002. He was part of The Pennsylvania Miner’s Story which aired on ABC the same year.

In 2003, the actor was part of Homefree, an independent film where he played a homeless man. Elkins was awarded the Best Actor award at the Dublin Film and Music Festival.