James Thomas Patrick "J. T." Walsh (September 28, 1943 – February 27, 1998) was an American actor. He appeared in many well-known films, including Nixon, Hoffa, A Few Good Men, "The Grifters", Backdraft, Miracle on 34th Street, Outbreak, Sling Blade, Breakdown, Pleasantville, The Negotiator, and Good Morning, Vietnam. According to Leonard Maltin, he was known for portraying "quietly sinister white-collar sleazeballs" in numerous films, and was described as "everybody's favorite scumbag" by Playboy magazine.
Walsh was born in San Francisco, California. He had three siblings: Christopher, Patricia, and Mary.
From 1948-62, the family lived in West Germany, before moving back to the United States. After studying at Clongowes Wood College (a Jesuit school in Ireland) from 1955–61, he attended the University of Tübingen, and then the University of Rhode Island, where he starred in many college theater productions. In 1974, he was discovered by a theatre director and began working in off-Broadway shows. After college Walsh worked briefly as a VISTA volunteer in Newport, Rhode Island organizing tenants for the United Tenant Organizations of Rhode Island (UTO) before resigning to pursue his acting career.
Walsh did not appear in films until 1975, when he had a minor role in Eddie Macon's Run. Over the next 15 years, he appeared in over 50 feature films, increasingly taking the bad guy role for which he is well known, such as Sergeant Major Dickerson in Good Morning, Vietnam. On television, he again portrayed an evil character, prison warden Brodeur on The X-Files in 1995 in the episode "The List".
Walsh wanted to show his range as an actor and play good guys, despite being typecast as a villain. He played relatively decent characters in Outbreak and Sniper. He played a member of Majestic 12 in the 1996 sci-fi drama series Dark Skies. The 1997 thriller Breakdown featured Walsh as the villainous truck driver. It was his last starring film released during his lifetime. In his final year of life, Walsh starred in Hidden Agenda, Pleasantville, and The Negotiator. All three films were dedicated to his memory.
Walsh died of a heart attack in La Mesa, California, at Grossmont hospital on February 27, 1998, at age 54, after feeling ill and collapsing while a guest at the Optimum Health Institute in Lemon Grove, California. Jack Nicholson dedicated his Academy Award for As Good as It Gets to Walsh's memory. The two had acted together in two films, A Few Good Men and Hoffa. The Negotiator, Pleasantville, and Hidden Agenda were Walsh's final film performances and all of these productions were dedicated to his memory.
|1985||Right to Kill?||Maj. Eckwo|
|1986||Hannah and Her Sisters||Ed Smythe|
|1987||Good Morning, Vietnam||Sgt. Major Dickerson|
|1987||House of Games||The Businessman / "Cop"|
|1988||Tequila Sunrise||DEA Agent Hal Maguire|
|1989||The Big Picture||Allen Habel|
|1990||Crazy People||Mr. Drucker|
|1990||Narrow Margin||Michael Tarlow|
|1990||Misery||State Trooper Sherman Douglas||Uncredited|
|1990||The Russia House||Colonel Jackson Quinn|
|1991||True Identity||Agent Houston|
|1991||Backdraft||Alderman Marty Swayzak|
|1992||A Few Good Men||Lt. Col. Matthew Markinson|
|1992||Red Rock West||Wayne Brown|
|1993||Needful Things||Danforth "Buster" Keeton III||Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1993||Sniper||Chester Van Damme|
|1994||The Last Seduction||Frank Griffith|
|1994||Miracle on 34th Street||Ed Collins|
|1994||The Client||Jason McThune|
|1994||Silent Fall||Sheriff Mitch Rivers|
|1995||Charlie's Ghost Story||Darryl|
|1995||Nixon||John Ehrlichman||Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture|
|1995||Black Day Blue Night||Lt. John Quinn|
|1995||The Babysitter||Harry Tucker|
|1995||Outbreak||White House Chief of Staff||Uncredited|
|1996||Executive Decision||Senator Jason Mavros|
|1996||Persons Unknown||Lt. Cake|
|1996||Sling Blade||Charles Bushman||Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture|
|1997||Breakdown||Warren "Red" Barr||Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1998||The Negotiator||Inspector Terence Niebaum|
|1998||Hidden Agenda||Jonathan Zanuck|
|1989||L.A. Law||Pete Bostik||Episode: "Consumed Innocent"|
|1995||The X Files||Warden Brodeur||Episode: "The List"|
|1996–1997||Dark Skies||Frank Bach|