An actor for all seasons He portrayed good-hearted oafs, mean-spirited drunkards, raffish frontier outlaws, and loyal sidekicks. He worked opposite everyone from Randolph Scott to Bill Murray in a career spanning about 25 years. He was game for any role: “If they asked me to play Hamlet, I’d just have to stick to the script,” he once said.
We’re talking about Warren Oates, one of those always-appealing performers whose work enlivened any film or television project. Among his film credits are Ride the High Country (1962), In the Heat of the Night (1967), The Wild Bunch (1969), and Stripes (1981). He lived a hard life — womanizing, drinking, and drugging along the way, but despite all sorts of obstacles, it seemed like a happy life, one he faced with a Zen-like attitude — at least as depicted in Susan Compo’s excellent 2009 biography Warren Oates: A Wild Life (University Press of Kentucky).
Compo, a University of Southern California lecturer, stops in Santa Fe to talk about Oates and the experience of writing the book. She gives a free talk at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 8, in the Community Room of the main branch of the Santa Fe Public Library, 145 Washington Ave. Call 955-6791.