Native American actor Sonny Landham, who portrayed Billy Sole in 1987’s Predator, has sadly passed away at the age of 76. Landham was part Seminole and Cherokee and starred along side Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator as well as roles in 48 Hrs. where he portrayed Billy Bear, The Warriors, Poltergeist, and Firewalker where he starred alongside Chuck Norris and Louis Gossett Jr. In addition to being an actor, Landham was also a professional stuntman and ran for political office in Kentucky, following the lead of fellow Predator stars Schwarzenegger and Jessie Ventura who became the governor of California and Minnesota, respectively.
Variety reports that the Sonny Landham died on Thursday at the age of 76 from congestive heart failure in Lexington, Kentucky. The actor had pretty much stopped acting in recent years and dedicated much of his time to politics, but never succeeded in holding office after not being able to obtain the Republican Party nomination for governor of Kentucky in 2003 and senate in 2004. Landham was able to score a nomination from the Kentucky Libertarian Party for a senate seat in 2008, but the nomination was rescinded after Landham comments that he made on a political radio show.
Landham’s early work saw him start his acting career by starring in several X-rated movies, but was able to breakout after his role as a cop in Walter Hill’s 1979 movie The Warriors. Landham was often cast as the tough guy or Native American including his role in Predator as well as Action Jackson and Sylvester Stallone’s Lockup. Landham continued to act throughout the 1990s and stopped to focus on politics before returning to acting in 2007. In addition to his movie roles, Landham also had roles in many 1980s television shows including The A-Team, The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission, The Fall Guy, North Star, and Miami Vice.
Sonny Landham was best known for the 1987 cult classic Predator where he played the expert tracker Billy Sole. He was a mercenary in Major “Dutch” Schaefer’s private military team when they were hired by the CIA for a rescue mission in Val Verde. The team found out that they had been set-up and then found themselves being hunted by the Predator. Landham’s character died when he challenged the Predator to some hand-to-hand combat. Landham’s character stood out from the rest and many fans remember Billy Sole after 30 years because of his performance.
Landham was born in Canton, Georgia in 1941 and was raised in Rome, Georgia. He attended Saint Mary’s Catholic School and Darlington School before playing football for a year at the University of Georgia. Landham was married five times and had four kids and saw some rough times later in life. In 1998 the actor spent three years in prison after being convicted of federal charges of making threatening and obscene phone calls, but was later released after the charges were reversed. Landham was recently in a bad car accident that ended with him losing both of his legs and living in a hotel room.