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Heroes of Cult: Billy Drago – The Frequent Villain

Frequently cast as the bad guy in films such as Pale Rider with Clint Eastwood, and The Untouchables with Kevin Costner, Billy Drago had an illustrious career being bad.

Born on November 30th in 1945 as William Eugene Burrows Jr., he took his grandmothers maiden name as his stage name to avoid being confused with another actor.  He grew up watching movies in a local theatre, got a job as a journalist after school, ended up being a popular radio voice in Canada and eventually New York City, did a stint with a touring theatre group, tried his hand as a stuntman, went to university and then, after all that, finally joined an acting company.

He started his acting career in 1979 in films such as No Other Love, Delta Force 2, Death Ring, Windwalker, and Cutter’s Way before going on to guest star in a variety of television shows such as Moonlighting, Automan, The Fall Guy, T.J. Hooker, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr, Walker Texas Ranger and Hill Street Blues.

It wasn’t until he performed his best-known role as Frank Nitti, Al Capone’s henchman in the 1987 film The Untouchables, that his career went up a notch and he appeared in numerous films and television shows.

An endearing performance in a one-off episode of Charmed caused popularity with the fans and he was brought back for six more episodes.

He also appeared in a couple of music videos, one for Michael Jackson and one for Mike and The Mechanics.

He was married to Silvana Gallardo from 1980 until her death in 2012, they had two sons, one of which became an actor.

He passed away on June 24th 2019 from complications of a stroke in Los Angeles.

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