fb-pixel Skip to main content

NEW YORK — Powers Boothe, an actor best known for playing dark characters on television shows like “Deadwood” and in movies like “Sin City,” died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 68.

The death was confirmed by his publicist, Karen Samfilippo. She did not specify the cause.

Mr. Boothe lent his burly frame and Texas drawl to numerous TV series beginning in the late 1970s. In addition to the acclaimed HBO series “Deadwood,” he was seen on shows including “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Nashville” and “24,” on which he played the vice president of the United States. Among the movies in which he appeared were “Red Dawn” (1984), “Marvel’s The Avengers” (2012) and Oliver Stone’s “Nixon” (1995), in which he played Alexander Haig.


He won an Emmy in 1980 for outstanding lead actor in a limited series or special for his performance as the leader of the Jonestown cult in the miniseries “Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones.”

He crossed a picket line during an actors’ strike to accept the award. “This may be either the bravest moment of my career or the dumbest,” he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Powers Allen Boothe was born June 1, 1948, and grew up on a cotton farm in West Texas, where “we didn’t have anything to do in my little town except drive fast cars, play pool, and go to the bootlegger, the drive-in, and a lot of places I shouldn’t have been in,” he told The New York Times in 1979.

In his senior year of high school, he recalled, he surprised people in his hometown by quitting football to focus on acting.

“I decided I was not going to make my living beating my head against someone else,” he said in the 1979 interview. “I got a lot of flak; in Texas, football is not only the social thing you must do, but you do it also to prove your manhood. They all couldn’t conceive of why I’d want to stop to do ‘The Importance of Being Earnest.’”


He attended Southwest Texas State University — he said he was the first one in his family to go to college — and then received a master’s degree in drama from Southern Methodist University.

He began his acting career with two years at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He then moved to New York, which he described as being “like a foreign country.”

He made his first and last appearance on Broadway in 1979 in the one-act play “Lone Star.”

In 1983 and again in 1986, Mr. Boothe portrayed the private eye Philip Marlowe in an HBO series based on stories by Raymond Chandler. Reviewing it for the Times, John J. O’ Connor praised Mr. Boothe for giving an “emotionally convincing” performance that “would have had Raymond Chandler’s approval.”

Information on survivors was not immediately available.