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R.I.P. Powers Boothe

By Petr Navovy | Miscellaneous | May 15, 2017 |

By Petr Navovy | Miscellaneous | May 15, 2017 |

Actor Powers Boothe, he of velvet voice, majestic mustache, and starring role in most of your favorite things, sadly passed away on Sunday. Mr. Boothe died at home, in his sleep, of natural causes.

The indelible character actor from Texas who would carve out a space for himself in the popular consciousness was born on a farm in 1948. His parents, Emily Kathryn and Merrill Vestal, must have known their son was destined for greatness, for they did not name the boy David or Stephen or Joseph—no, they named the boy Powers Allen Boothe. Sure enough, after graduating from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, and learning his craft treading the boards, Powers made a nationwide name for himself after showing off his acting chops playing the lead in the TV drama, Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones.

Powers Boothe was a man of immense, unique presence, and the clearest evidence for this is to cast one’s eye back and think of the actor’s roles. At first, hundreds of entries seem to bubble up, yet on more in-depth reflection the truth appears out of the fog: Mr Boothe was not a hyperactive journeyman who took every role that came his way. Rather the actor spaced his appearances out, allowing his gravitas to make the maximum mark it could. He did not need countless characters to put the world on notice. Whether it was his memorable turns in Tombstone or Deadwood—in both of which he proved himself one of the all-time most natural people to ever play a role in a Western—or his smaller roles in Oliver Stone’s U Turn, Bill Paxton’s Frailty, or Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City—Boothe’s powerful presence was always felt. Particularly adept at painting in shades of villainy, his voice alone could be enough to instantly conjure images and moods of sinister, mustache-twirling mischief. Think of his silhouette towering over Nick Fury in The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. How many times could a hologram of someone, their manifestation physically larger or not, feel like they could actually intimidate Samuel L. Jackson—and through voice alone? Probably not too many people in the history of our species could pull that particular feat off. Powers Boothe was one such person, and movies are now poorer for never having the chance to have him appear in their credits ever again.

Mr Boothe is survived by his high school sweetheart wife, Pam Cole, and their two children.


Petr Knava
lives in London and plays music