Donald Lee “Don” Stroud was born on September 1st 1943 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is the son of comedian and vaudevillien Clarence Stroud (of the Stroud Twins) and singer Ann Livermore. His brother Duke Stroud is also an actor Mission: Impossible, The Dukes of Hazzard,Voyagers!, The Outlaws, Hill Street Blues, Law & Order, Human Desires and as the furious air traffic controller in Top Gun.
Whilst growing up in Hawaii, Stroud spent a lot of time on the beach and soon discovered surfing. His mentors included such mentors as Blackout, Mud, Buckshot, Rabbit and Steamboat. Stroud’s mother and stepfather Paul Livermore owned and operated Embers Steak House and nightclub where Ann performed nightly. Then at the age of seventeen years old, 1960, Stroud placed fourth in the Duke Kahanamoku World Surfing Championship at Makaha, Hawaii. He also earned a black belt in the Hawaiian martial art of Kajukenbo Self Defense.
Ironically it was Stroud’s love of surfing that would lead him to the big screen one fateful day in Waikiki when actor Troy Donahue spotted him and asked him to be his surfing stunt double in Hawaiian Eye. Stroud enjoyed the experience and moved to Hollywood to explore acting further. At one point in time Stroud was a bouncer and later manager for the infamous Sunset Strip venue Whisky-A-Go-Go.
In 1967 Stroud debuted on the big screen in The Ballad of Josie, TV roles soon followed in Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre and The Road West.
In 1968, Stroud made the first of his two movies with Clint Eastwood, Coogan’s Bluff. His second was Joe Kidd in 1972.
In 1970 Stroud got to return to Hawaii when he appeared in Hawaii Five-O, he would go on to guest as various characters over the years of the series.
Stroud co-starred in Roger Corman’s 1971 film Von Richthofen and Brown. Stroud played Roy Brown opposite John Phillip Law’s Baron von Richthofen. Corman used Lynn Garrison’s Irish aviation facility and Garrison taught Stroud the rudiments of flying so that he could manage to take off and land the aircraft, making some of the footage more realistic. On September 16th 1970, during a low-level sequence flying a two-seat SV4C Stampe biplane across Lake Weston, a large bird flew through the propeller’s arc, striking Garrison in the face, knocking him unconscious. The aircraft flew into five powerlines, snap rolled and plunged into the lake inverted. Garrison and Stroud were rescued some time later. Stroud was unhurt. Garrison required 60 stitches to close a head wound.
Also in 1973, he was paid $10,000 to appear as a nude centerfold in Playgirl Magazine’s November issue.
In 1975 Stroud starred as real-life jewel thief Jack Murphy in the movie Murph the Surf, the following year he starred in the horror/thriller Death Weekend. He added another horror to his CV in 1979 when he had a supporting role in the cult horror film The Amityville Horror, as well as the miniseries Mrs. Columbo from that same year which starred Kate Mulgrew.
In 1978 Stroud co-starred in The Buddy Holly Story as Holly’s drummer. Stroud legitimately played the drums throughout the movie. Other appearances included Ironside, The Wide World of Mystery, Cannon, Barnaby Jones, The Manhunter, Gunsmoke, The Streets of San Francisco, Kung Fu, Police Story, Taxi Driver, Police Woman, Sudden Death, The Choirboys, Supertrain, The Dukes of Hazzard, Charlie’s Angels, Hart To Hart, The Incredible Hulk, Strike Force, CHiPS, Knots Landing, Knight Rider, Simon & Simon, The Powers of Matthew Star, Fantasy Island, The Fall Guy, Matt Houston, The A-Team, Hunter, T and T, and in 1989 Stroud played a James Bond villain in the film Licence to Kill (1989).
Stroud had a recurring on screen relationship with actor Stacy Keach which began in 1976 when both appeared in The Killer Inside Me. Stroud would later play Captain Pat Chambers in the television series Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer and The New Mike Hammer, alongside Keach as Mike Hammer.
In the early 1990’s Stroud attempted to come to the aid of a man being mugged on the street in Greenwich Village, New York City. He wound up getting stabbed ten times, including his right eye; he can no longer see out of it.
Further shows included Nash Bridges, Pensacola: Wings of Gold, Jake and the Fatman, Hyper Space, The King of the Kickboxers, MacGyver, Dragnet, Super Force, Quantum Leap, The Roller Blade Seven (and its sequels), Renegade, Babylon 5, and even appeared in the rebooted Hawaii Five-0. Then in 2012 (in his last role to date) Stroud appeared as Sheriff Bill Sharp in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
Don Stroud may not appear in another role but what he has produced have shown us a great character actor who was also a true tough guy in real life – how many other actors have walked away from a plane crash and multiple stabbings? That is why Don Stroud is a true Hero of Cult.