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‘Billy Jack’ creator, star dies at 82

Tom Laughlin, the maverick actor and filmmaker best known for the “Billy Jack” films, has died. He was 82.

Laughlin died Thursday in Thousand Oaks, Calif., his family announced.

Laughlin had been married to actress Delores Taylor since 1954 and also had several ill-fated runs for president. He was best known for the “Billy Jack” films, which also starred Taylor.

In 1967, he wrote and directed and starred in “The Born Losers,” a motorcycle exploitation film that became a box-office hit. It introduced the world to the part-American Indian Vietnam veteran title character.

The 1971 sequel, the vigilante-themed “Billy Jack” became a box-office smash, although it was controversial for its suggestion of violence as a justice-seeking tool.

Laughlin co-produced and starred in all four “Jack” films, including the little-seen final one, 1977’s “Billy Jack Goes to Washington.” The third film, “The Trial of Billy Jack,” was one of the first movies to get a major national advertising push.

– Los Angeles Times