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James Coburn (1928 -- 2002)

Nebraska-born Hollywood veteran James Coburn studied acting and worked in the New York theatre before making his movie debut, aged 31, in the western, Ride Lonesome (1959). His tall, brooding presence and deep voice will be fondly remembered in John Sturges's The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Great Escape (1963), both opposite Steve McQueen; Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973); and the spy spoofs Our Man Flint (1966) and its sequel, In Like Flint (1967), in which he was the suave hero.

More recently, Coburn appeared in Maverick (1994) and Payback (1999), both starring Mel Gibson, and Paul Shrader's tough drama, Affliction (also 1999), for which he was honoured with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar®.

His voice breathed life into a character in Disney/Pixar's massive 2001 hit, Monsters, Inc. and altogether his career took in 70 films right through to The Man from Elysian Fields (2002). Coburn is survived by his wife, Paula, two children and two grandchildren. He died of a heart attack aged 74 on 19 November 2002.