Sad news. Actor Billy Drago, who many will recognize as the gangster Frank Nitti from The Untouchables, has passed away at the age of 73. Via Variety:
Billy Drago, who often played charming but chilling gangster roles and appeared in Brian De Palma’s “The Untouchables” and Clint Eastwood’s “Pale Rider,” died Monday in Los Angeles of complications from a stroke. He was 73.
The character actor played Al Capone’s henchman Frank Nitti in 1987’s “The Untouchables.”
On TV series “Charmed,” he put his reptilian stare to good use as the demon Barbas in several episodes over five seasons.
Born William Eugene Burrows in Hugoton, Kan., his actor-director father was said to be of Native American origin. His mother’s family was of Romany extraction; he took their name Drago as his stage name. Starting out as a stuntman, he moved to New York and beginning his acting career.
Drago started acting in the late 1970s, appearing in films including “Cutter’s Way,” “No Other Love” and “Windwalker.” On television, he had guest roles in “Hill Street Blues,” “Moonlighting,” “Walker Texas Ranger,” “Trapper John, M.D.” and “The X-Files.”
Appearing in more than 100 films, he had roles in three Chuck Norris films including “Invasion U.S.A.,” “Hero and the Terror” and “Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection” as drug lord Ramon Cota.
Not listed in his filmography, Billy Drago actually appeared in my film The Outsideman in 2003. It was a real pleasure working with such a talented actor like Billy. Though he was known for playing villains, he was actually a very nice and soft-spoken guy. I feel very blessed for having gotten to meet him and work with him.
R.I.P. Billy. You were a wonderful talent. You will be missed.