Gervase Duan “G.D.” Spradlin, a character actor known for playing authority figures in television and films, including “The Godfather: Part II” and “Apocalypse Now,” has died. He was 90.
He died of natural causes at his cattle ranch Sunday in San Luis Obispo, said his grandson, Justin Demko.
A former oil company lawyer and millionaire independent oil producer, the Oklahoma native played his share of doctors, ministers, military officers and historical figures during his more than 30-year acting career.
His breakthrough movie role as a character actor was as corrupt Nevada Sen. Pat Geary in director Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather: Part II” in 1974.
Five years later, Spradlin was the Army general who sent Martin Sheen’s Capt. Willard up river to find and kill Marlon Brando’s Col. Kurtz in Coppola’s movie “Apocalypse Now.”
Spradlin, whose other film credits include “The War of the Roses” and “Ed Wood,” retired from acting after playing Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlee in the 1999 comedy “Dick.”
“He brought a lot of what he had done in his life to what he did on the screen,” said Demko, adding that his grandfather had a lifelong love of language and could recite passages from Shakespeare and poetry until the end.
Spradlin’s first wife, Nell, with whom he had two daughters, Tamara Kelly and Wendy Spradlin, died in 2000. In 2002, he married Frances Hendrickson, who survives him, as do his two daughters and five grandchildren.