James Coburn Biography

Actor (1928–2002)
James Coburn was a prolific Oscar-winning film and TV actor known for projects like Our Man Flint and Affliction.


Actor James Coburn was born on August 31, 1928, in Laurel, Nebraska. He starred in several TV and film Westerns during the ‘50s and ‘60s and later worked in comedy and dramas, taking the lead in films like Our Man Flint, The President’s Analyst, Harry in Your Pocket and Cross of Iron. He starred in dozens of projects over the course of his career and won an Oscar in 1998 for his role in Affliction.

Early Film Career

Film, television and stage actor James Coburn was born on August 31, 1928, in Laurel, Nebraska. He studied acting at Los Angeles City College and the University of Southern California before moving to New York City, where he became a student at the prestigious Stella Adler Theatre school. Returning to California, he made his critically acclaimed acting debut at La Jolla Playhouse in Billy Budd, a stage adaptation of the Herman Melville classic. After some television work, including appearances in the TV??s popular western Bonanza, Coburn made his film debut in 1959 in Face of a Fugitive, a western directed by Paul Wendkos. Over the next few years, he was cast in a variety of supporting rolls, appearing in The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963) and The Americanization of Emily (1964), among other movies.

Career Highlights

In 1966, he won his first major starring role in the box-office hit Our Man Flint. His performance as "Derek Flint," a swinging 1960s spy, won Coburn a hit sequel, In Like Flint (1967), and later inspired Mike Myers's comedic character in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997). Coburn used his newfound fame to start up his won production company, which in 1967 produced The President's Analyst, a political satire. Admired by director Sam Peckinpah, who worked with him in Major Dundee (1965) and The Cross of Iron (1977), Coburn was given the opportunity to co-direct Peckinpah's 1978 film, Convoy.

In recent years, he has appeared opposite Mel Gibson in Maverick (1994) and Payback (1999), along side Arnold Schwarzenegger in Eraser (1996), and with Eddie Murphy in the hit The Nutty Professor. In 1998, after appearing in more than eighty films, Coburn gave his most acclaimed performance to date as "Glen Whitehouse," an abusive, alcoholic father in Paul Shrader's Affliction (1998), co-starring Nick Nolte and Sissy Spacek. In March 1999, he took home an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Affliction.

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