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Will Sampson (September 27, 1933 - June 3, 1987) was an Americanmarker actor and artist.

Life and career

Sampson, a Native American Muscogee , was born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Sampson's most notable roles were as "Chief Bromden" in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and as "Taylor the Medicine Man" in the horror film Poltergeist II. He had a recurring role on the TV series Vega$, as Harlon Twoleaf and starred in the movies Fish Hawk, The Outlaw Josey Wales and Orca.

Sampson appeared in the production of Black Elk Speaks with the American Indian Theater Company in Tulsamarker, Oklahoma where David Carradine and other Native American actors like Wes Studi and Randolph Mantooth starred in stage productions.

Sampson was a noted artist. His large painting depicting the Ribbon Dance of his Muscogee people is in the collection of the Creek Council House Museum in Okmulgee, Oklahomamarker.

In an interview in TV Ontario’s series Film 101, “Hollywood Asylum, Explored or exploited?” actor Brad Dourif (played the stuttering Billy Bibbit with Sampson in One Who Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest) told that Sampson had been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. When he was pardoned, after serving ten years, his release came without apology or compensation. Sampson observed the cast on set and noted, based on behavior, that only he and Dourif truly understood what it meant to be institutionalized (Dourif had gone to Catholic boarding school).


In need of a heart and liver transplant, he died on June 3, 1987 of post-operative kidney failure and pre-operative malnutrition problems. Sampson was 53 years old. He was buried in Hitchita's Graves Creek Cemetery.


Year Film Role Other notes
1975 Crazy Mama Indian at Trading Uncredited Role
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Chief Bromden
1976 Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson The Interpreter/William Halsey
The Outlaw Josey Wales Ten Bears
1977 Cowboysan Indian Chief Short film
The White Buffalo Crazy Horse/Worm
Orca Umilak
1979 Fish Hawk Fish Hawk
1985 Insignificance Elevator Attendant
1986 Poltergeist II: The Other Side Taylor
Firewalker Tall Eagle
Year Title Role Notes
1977 Relentless Sam Watchman CBS TV-Movie
The Hunted Lady Uncle George NBC TV-Movie
1978 Standing Tall Lonny Moon NBC TV-Movie
1978–1979 Vega$ Harlon Two-Leaf 6 episodes
1979 From Here to Eternity Sgt. Cheney NBC Miniseries later adapted to TV series
1980 Alcatraz: The White Shocking Story Clarence's Father NBC TV-Movie
1982 Born to the Wind Painted Bear
1983–1984 The Yellow Rose John Strongheart 7 episodes
1984 The Mystic Warrior Evan Freed ABC Miniseries
1985 Wildside Fake Sitting Bull Episode: Buffalo Who?
1986 Roanoak Wingina Miniseries
Tall Tales & Legends Chief Episode: Johnny Appleseed
1987 The Gunfighters Train Passenger TV-Movie

Awards and nominations

Genie Award
  • 1980: Nominated, "Best Performance by a Foreign Actor" - Fish Hawk

External links

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