Frank McRae

Before venturing into comedies and action movies in the 1970s, beefy Frank McRae had been a defensive tackle for the Chicago Bears in 1967 (he played for three years) and later with the Los Angeles Rams. An injury knocked him out of the game for good and he started auditioning for movie work. His ambition to make it in the movies was not a foolhardy endeavor. During the off-season with the Bears, he had studied under famed Method-acting teacher Lee Strasberg, so he was more than equipped to brave the turbulent waters of Hollywood. He was cast as convict Reed Youngblood in John Milius's two-fisted 1973 gangster picture "Dillinger," forging a long relationship with the notoriously right-wing filmmaker. Through the years, Milius would cast McRae in three more films, including the surfing coming-of-age story "Big Wednesday," the anti-Communist action film "Red Dawn" (he's the first casualty of the invasion), and the war picture "Farewell to the King." He also landed small roles in several Walter Hill films, such as "Hard Times," and most memorably as the loudmouthed police chief in the action buddy comedy "48 Hrs. ." McRae later parodied that performance in the failed Arnold Schwarzenegger blockbuster, "The Last Action Hero." His performances in Steven Spielberg's raucous World War II comedy "1941," Robert Zemeckis's comedic satire "Used Cars," and the comedy classic "National Lampoon's Vacation" (as the thoroughly freaked out security guard at Wally World), all show this reliable actor at his best. Frank McRae died on April 29, 2021 in Santa Monica, CA at the age of 78.