The prolific character actor passed away Saturday at age 94.
Time to say goodbye to L.Q. Jones, a cult-favorite mainstay of TV and movie westerns and frequent collaborator with Sam Peckinpah. The Beaumont, Texas native passed away Saturday at his home in the Hollywood Hills. He was 94.
Born Justus Ellis McQueen Jr., he professionally rechristened himself after playing a character named L.Q. Jones in his first feature film, Raoul Walsh’s Battle Cry (1955). Under that name, he appeared in dozens of movies, television series and made-for-TV films during a career that spanned six decades.
During the Golden Age of TV Westerns, Jones guested on Cheyenne, Annie Oakley, Black Saddle, Wagon Train, Tales of Wells Fargo, Laramie, Rawhide and several others, usually in villainous roles. “I've done 25, 30, 50 different types of heavies,” he once told an interviewer, adding, “It’s really hard to say what they're looking for when they pick me. A lot of times your heavy is not that well presented in the script. Most times he's too one-sided. So we look for things to bring to being a heavy: a certain softness; a vulnerability that makes him human; a quiet moment when he's a screamer most of the time; a look; the way he dresses; the way he walks into a room. There are many things that contribute to why a casting director will choose me over someone else… or someone else over me.”
Jones frequently co-starred in movies directed by Sam Peckinpah, including Ride the High Country, Major Dundee, The Battle of Cable Hogue and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. He made an especially vivid impression in Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch as a grubby bounty hunter partnered with an equally dodgy Strother Martin.
Among the other films on Jones’ resume: Flaming Star (1960), Cimarron (1960), Apache Rifles (1964), Nevada Smith (1966), Hang ‘Em High (1968), The Hunting Party (1971), Lone Wolf McQuade (1983), The Patriot (1998), and The Mask of Zorro (1998).
Jones played continuing roles on two television series — Andy Belden in The Virginian and Sheriff Lew Wallace in The Yellow Rose — and in 1975 wrote and directed A Boy and His Dog, a darkly comical sci-fi thriller about a teen-ager (Don Johnson) and his telepathic canine companion (voiced by Jason Robards) struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic Southwest.
Martin Scorsese cast Jones for a key scene opposite Robert De Niro in Casino (1995) — and reportedly asked him to adjust his dialogue so his character would sound more authentically Western. Which Jones was more than happy to do.