Noble Willingham may not have been a matinee idol, but he was a hardworking actor who appeared in dozens of feature films.
The Texas-native used his “distinctive voice and warmly gruff manner” to land supporting roles in movies like “Paper Moon,” “Chinatown,” “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “City Slickers” and “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.” During his four decades in Hollywood, he also made guest appearances on a variety of TV shows, from “The Rockford Files” and “Alice,” to “Highway to Heaven” and “Home Improvement.”
In 1999, Willingham left a steady gig as C.D. Parker, the saloon owner in the show “Walker, Texas Ranger,” to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. He was the Republican nominee for the congressional seat in eastern Texas, but lost to Democrat Max Sandlin in 2000.
Willingham earned a bachelor’s degree from North Texas State College and a master’s degree in educational psychology from Baylor University. He taught high school economics and government in Houston before auditioning for a part in the Peter Bogdanovich movie, “The Last Picture Show.”
Willingham died on Jan. 17 from natural causes at the age of 72. His final film, “Blind Horizon,” starring Val Kilmer, will be released later this year.