Clifton James

Clifton James Biography

Clifton James

Clifton James was an American actor born on May 29, 1920 in Spokane, Washington. He was the son of Grace, a teacher, and Harry James, a journalist. He grew up in Gladstone, Oregon and fought in WWIII in the South Pacific from 1942-1945, earning the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.

His first film role was as Colonel Ramsey in The Strange One (1957), and starred in many lesser known films throughout the late 1950s and 1960s. He was regularly cast in southern roles as officers, which led to his biggest break becoming world famous for his comic-relief role as Sheriff J.W. Pepper in the James Bond film Live and Let Die (1973).

Clifton James returned in the next Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) with the sheriff getting caught up in 007’s next investigation while on holiday in Thailand. He also played similar characters in Silver Streak (1976) and Superman II (1980).


In addition to his comedic roles, James portrayed the district attorney who prosecuted Al Capone in The Untouchables (1987), a Navy master-at-arms in The Last Detail (1973), and baseball team owner Charles Comiskey in Eight Men Out (1988). His last film appearance was in Raising Flagg (2006). James also appeared in TV shows such as The A-Team, and The Dukes of Hazzard in which he played Sheriff Lester Crabb, a one-off replacement for regular Sheriff Rosco, both with that same comedic southern Sheriff role.

Clifton James was married twice, first to Donna Lea Beach from 1948-1950 and later to Laurie Harper from 1951 until her death in 2015. He had a total of six children and resided in Gladstone, Oregon until his death from complications of diabetes on April 15, 2017 at the age of 96.