Jay C. Flippen could probably be characterized these days as one of those distinctive faces you know but whose name escapes you while viewing old ’50s and ’60s movies and TV. His distinctive bulldog mug, beetle brows, bulky features, and silver-white hair were ideally suited for roles as criminals and rugged adventurers, while his background in vaudeville and minstrel shows helped him obtain roles in occasional fluffy slapstick and light musical comedy. Flippen was already a veteran performer on radio and the Broadway stage by the time he focused on film. He could be counted on to provide his patented gruff and bluster in many an action film, whether playing a sheriff, prison warden, military high-ranker, bartender, or farmer. Moreover, his characters supported James Stewart in several of his standard vehicles, including Winchester ’73 (1950), Bend of the River (1952), Thunder Bay (1953), The Far Country (1954), Strategic Air Command (1955), The Restless Breed (1957), Night Passage (1957), and Firecreek (1968). Dogged by illness but determined in later years, he continued his career in a wheelchair following a leg amputation. He was married for 25 years to screenwriter Ruth Brooks Flippen, whose work included a couple of Gidget movies. He died at age 71 of an aneurysm, which is a rupture of a swollen artery.
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