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Enter the Dragon Co-Star Dies

Golden Globe winner played hundreds of roles, including one alongside Bruce Lee
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2020 11:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – John Saxon, an American actor of Italian descent who played a Mexican bandit and a Middle East tycoon, died Saturday at age 83. The cause of death was pneumonia, per the Hollywood Reporter. His best-known roles were in three of Wes Craven's Nightmare on Elm Street films and with Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon. Saxon lacked Lee's fighting ability but enjoyed working with the star because "he took me seriously," he later told the Los Angeles Times. "I would tell him I would rather do it this way, and he'd say, 'OK, try it that way.'" His other roles include the bandit part in The Appaloosa, a western starring Marlon Brando, for which Saxon was nominated for a Golden Globe. The tycoon character was on Dynasty, a prime-time TV soap opera. He also was in Joe Kidd, Beverly Hills Cop III, and The Electric Horseman.

Henry Willson, the famed agent who discovered Rock Hudson, signed Saxon after seeing him portray a "Puerto Rican guy" in a photo shoot. A Brooklyn native, Saxon became skilled at the bow and arrow while working at a Coney Island attraction during high school. "Brooklyn was a tough place to grow up in," he later said, "but it taught you survival, and if you were ambitious, it taught you to want better things." In 1958, per Deadline, he won a Golden Globe for most promising newcomer. Saxon went on to play hundreds of roles in movies and TV shows, as varied as an early rock 'n' roll musician and a psychotic soldier. "I can't think of anybody who has had such an electric career," screenwriter Larry Karaszewski once said. "He never made it quite in the realm of [Steve] McQueen or James Coburn. But he is the cool guy." (Read more obituary stories.)

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