William M. “Sonny” Landham was born on February 11th 1941 in Canton, Georgia. He is a descendant of the Cherokee and Seminole tribes.
After three years in the army, Landham began appearing in Adult movies in the 1970’s before switching to mainstream movies. On reflecting back on this choice he stated “If I was going to do it now – knowing that I’m going to have four children, knowing that I was going to run for office – no, I wouldn’t make that choice. But at the time I made the choice of getting a paycheck, staying alive for your big break.”
His mainstream break came in the form of a bit part as a police officer in Walter Hill’s gang film The Warriors; then minor roles followed in Southern Comfort and Poltergeist.
Landham hit the Cult Faction radar big time in 1982 when Walter Hill cast him as Billy Bear, James Remar’s gun happy, criminal partner in the high voltage hit 48 Hrs.
TV roles were a plenty too with appearances in B.J. and the Bear, The A-Team, The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission, Call To Glory, Northstar, Hardcastle and McCormick, and Miami Vice.
That doesn’t mean Landham was finished with the big screen though. His role as Billy in Predator almost stole the film from Arnie, and also bore the legend that during its filming a bodyguard was hired, not for Landham’s personal protection, but because the film’s insurance company was worried for the safety of the cast with him around!
Not content with just upstaging Arnie, Landham appeared alongside Carl Weathers (again) in Action Jackson in 1988, Sylvester Stallone in Lock Up in 1989, and Sam Jones in Maximum Force in 1992. As the 1990’s moved on Landham began to wind down his acting, switching his attention to a political career. He still managed to give us Best of the Best II, Taxi Dancers, Savage Land, Night Realm, Fatal Choice, and 2090 amongst others.
In 2003, Landham ran in the Republican Party primary election for the post of Governor of Kentucky, hoping to repeat the success of his Predator castmates Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He based his candidacy on opposition to an amendment which endorsed the Kentucky Family Court, saying his bad experiences at the hands of the family court had convinced him that it was run for the benefit of lawyers rather than families or children. He was unsuccessful in gaining the party’s nomination. He ran briefly as an independent candidate, but withdrew on June 18, and endorsed the Republican slate.
In 2004, Landham formed the Sonny Landham Foundation which he continues to operate and deliver public speaking. In 2006 he produced, directed, and moderated a political education DVD. He has since produced movies, directed movies, wrote movie scripts, and even became a published author with his book Total Man, but his main passion is golf.
Categories: Heroes of Cult