William Tepper, who starred in Jack Nicholson’s directorial debut Drive, He Said and accompanied Nicholson to the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack. He was 69.
Tepper’s death was confirmed by his manager Jon Klane.
Tepper, known as Bill, also appeared in Bachelor Party (1984), the Richard Gere starrer Breathless (1983), and ’70s TV series including Kojak and Ironside.
Tepper also wrote and produced the 2006 film Grilled, starring Ray Romano, Kevin James and Sofia Vergara, and was executive producer of the 1980 Jack Kerouac biopic Heart Beat, starring Nick Nolte and Sissy Spacek.
But Tepper most will likely be best remembered for the 1971 Nicholson cult classic. Produced by Raybert Productions of Easy Rider and The Monkees fame, the film was based on Jeremy Larner’s 1964 novel and included a pre-Jaws director of photography Bill Butler and a screenplay with uncredited contributions from Terence Malick.
Co-starring were Bruce Dern, Karen Black, Robert Towne, Henry Jaglom, David Ogden Stiers, Cindy Williams and Michael Margotta.
Although the film was critically lambasted upon its release in 1971, it has gained a cult following over the years. Tepper toplined the pic as a college basketball star who has an affair with his favorite professor’s wife (Black) as his buddy (Margotta) desperately tries to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War.
Information of survivors or memorial service plans was not immediately available.