Filmmaker Tom Laughlin, who co-wrote, helmed, and starred in the 1971 independent vigilante pic Billy Jack, died Thursday. He was 82. Per his official website, Laughlin passed away near his home in Thousand Oaks, California. Laughlin’s iconic cult character Billy Jack, a half-Native American Green Beret Vietnam vet and martial arts expert, first emerged in 1967’s bikersploitation pic The Born Losers which Laughlin directed under the name T.C. Frank. Two more sequels followed the standalone sequel Billy Jack, including The Trial of Billy Jack (1974) and Billy Jack Goes To Washington (1977). Laughlin later took roles in 1978’s Raymond Chandler adaptation The Big Sleep and 1981’s The Legend of The Lone Ranger, but switched gears to politics and ran for President of the United States in 1992, 2004, and 2008.
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