Sam Bottoms, of the 1970s classics Apocalypse Now and The Last Picture Show, died Tuesday of brain cancer in his Los Angeles home, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 53.
In Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Vietnam War epic, Bottoms played pro surfer-turned-soldier Lance B. Johnson, faced with the insane orders of Robert Duvall's Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore.
"He was a handsome, tall young man and very sweet-natured and seemed to be right for that part," Coppola said Wednesday. "Sam was a good actor. Of course, he comes from a family that had a lot of theatrical activity."
Bottoms' debuted in The Last Picture Show when he was 15, alongside his best-known brother, Timothy. He played a mute and mentally handicapped boy forced by friends to lose his virginity to a prostitute.
Born in Santa Barbara in 1955, Bottoms was the third of four sons — all actors — of sculptor James "Bud" Bottoms. He started acting at age 10 in his local theater.
Bottoms' other credits include the Clint Eastwood Westerns The Outlaw Josey Wales and Bronco Billy, Coppola's 1987 Vietnam film Gardens of Stone, and, most recently, Seabiscuit and Shopgirl.