JUNE 3, 1987


Born September 27, 1933, in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, his name meant “Left-handed.”  Leaving home at age 12, Sonny worked on ranches and did construction and lumberjack work before becoming a rodeo performer.  He also drew and his entrance into acting came while putting together a show of his art.  At 6’5” he was exactly what the movie producers of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest were looking for in the role of Chief Bromden (1975).  It was his first acting role.  He also starred opposite Clint Eastwood in the western The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) and had supporting roles in Orca (1977), The White Buffalo (1977) and Fish Hawk (1979).  In 1986, he co-starred in Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986).  Sampson also had numerous TV roles.  As an artist, he was well-known for his paintings.  Collections of his work are found at: Philbrook Museum of Art, Haskell Indian College; Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK; and Los Angeles Art Center School.  Will died in Houston, Texas.

Sources:  Dick Kleiner, “Will Sampson's Acting was Instinctive In 'Cuckoo's Nest,” Newspaper Enterprise Association;[in the Ocala Star-Banner ], 8/29/1976.  Retrieved 7/1/2020, https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=o8wwAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mQUEAAAAIBAJ&pg=7115%2C6612318
 “Will Sampson Biography,” IMDb.  Retrieved 7/1/2020, https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0760225/bio
 “William Will Jr. Sonny Sampson,” askART.  Retrieved 1/20/2021, William (Will) Jr. Sonny Sampson - Biography (askart.com)
Photo:  Author and date unknown.  Fair Use.

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