Monday, December 16, 2013
Billy Jack Goes to Heaven: RIP, Tom Laughlin
Sad and ironically, he developed inoperable tongue cancer in 2001.
His daughter, Teresa Laughlin, told the Los Angeles Times, "[O]nce he found Jungian psychology, it supplanted everything else."
His films included "The Born Losers," a 1967 biker movie; "Billy Jack" in 1971; and "The Trial of Billy Jack" in 1974. A fourth film, "Billy Jack Goes to Washington," had only a limited release after its production in 1977. Based on... "Mr Smith Goes to Washington," it condemned the nuclear energy industry and was suppressed by politicians with something to lose, Laughlin suggested to reporters. "However corrupt you think Washington and Congress are, you're not even close," he said in a 2007 Sacramento TV interview, according to the LA Times.
Billy Jack remains an iconic movie figure, a karate-chopping pacifist reluctantly but stoically forced into battle by racists and other violent troublemakers.
In recent years, Laughlin suffered a series of strokes and acquired an auto-immunity disorder known as Celiac Disease. He died of complications from pneumonia and is survived by his daughter and wife (since 1954), Delores Taylor. He was 82.