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PREDATOR, from left: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sonny Landham, 1987, TM & Copyright © 20th Century Fox F
Credit: Everett Collection

Sonny Landham, the Native American actor who costarred in action films Predator and 48 Hrs., has died at the age of 76.

According to his sister, Landham died from congestive heart failure in a hospital in Lexington, KY, the AP reports.

Beginning his career in adult films and stunt work, Landham transitioned into acting work in the late 1970s, often drawing on his Cherokee and Seminole ancestry to portray characters of Native American descent.

His mainstream movie debut was a minor role as a subway policeman in Walter Hill’s 1979 film, The Warriors. Based on that performance, Hill cast him in his first major role as Billy Bear, one of the criminals being tracked by Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hrs.

Landham’s most memorable role came opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, portraying another Billy — Billy Sole, the Native American tracker in Predator.

He continued to appear in a minor string of action films following the success of that role. In later life, he unsuccessfully tried to start a political career, announcing campaigns for the governor of Kentucky in 2003 and for Mitch McConnell’s Senate seat in 2008.

Landham is survived by his two children.

48 Hrs.
  • Movie
  • 92 minutes