Warren Oates

With his lopsided, slightly menacing grin, mild Southern drawl and lanky frame, Warren Oates was one of those rare character actors who became as recognizable as many leading men. Born July 5, 1928, in Depoy, Ky., Oates became interested in theater while in college.

After working on New York-based TV dramas during the mid-'50s, Oates relocated to Hollywood, where he quickly established himself as a leading villain on TV Westerns such as "Have Gun Will Travel." In 1962, Sam Peckinpah cast Oates in Ride the High Country, marking the beginning of a long association that would result in some of Oates's most memorable work in films such as Major Dundee and The Wild Bunch.

In the '70s, Oates began another important collaboration -- this time with director Monte Helmon -- and the result was more stellar roles in films such as Cockfighter (1974) and China 9 Liberty 37 (1978). Oates died in 1982.