Navy Vet L.Q. Jones Had an Amazing Career in Movie Westerns

L.Q. Jones Casino
L.Q. Jones in "Casino." (Universal Pictures)

L.Q. Jones, who acted in some of the greatest western movies of all time and also wrote and directed the science fiction cult classic "A Boy and His Dog," died July 9, 2002, at age 94 at his home in Hollywood, California.

The actor, who was born Justus McQueen in Beaumont, Texas, in 1929, served in the U.S. Navy from 1945-1946 and later studied law at the University of Texas, where he roomed with Marine Corps veteran and future "Daniel Boone" star Fess Parker.

The law didn't really work out for Mr. McQueen, who worked as a standup comic and minor-league baseball player before following his former roommate to Los Angeles. McQueen got his first role as Pvt. L.Q. Jones alongside Parker in the 1955 Marine Corps drama, "Battle Cry." Someone convinced McQueen to trade his weirdly memorable birth name for the almost-as-odd character name, and he was known as L.Q. Jones for the rest of his career.

Jones played opposite WWII Marine Reserves veteran Glenn Ford in the western "Cimarron" (1960), Army vet Elvis Presley in the western "Flaming Star" (1960), Army vet Clint Eastwood in "Hang 'Em High" (1968), Marine vet Steve McQueen in the WWII drama "Hell Is for Heroes" (1962), Elvis again in another western "Stay Away, Joe" (1968), WWII Navy vet Jason Robards in the western "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" (1970), Army veterans James Coburn and Kris Kristofferson in "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid" (1973), WWII Army Air Force vet Slim Pickens in "White Line Fever" (1975), Navy vet Bill Cosby and Marine vet Harvey Keitel in "Mother, Jugs & Speed" (1976), and Air Force vet Chuck Norris and Army vet David Carradine in "Lone Wolf McQuade" (1983).

A career peak came in 1969 in director and WWII Marine veteran Sam Peckinpah's revisionist western, "The Wild Bunch," starring WWII Army Air Force vet William Holden, WWII Navy vet Ernest Borgnine, WWII Marine vet Robert Ryan, WWII Army Air Force vet Edmond O'Brien, Marine vet Warren Oates, WWII Navy vet Strother Martin, Army vet Bo Hopkins, Dub Taylor and Ben Johnson.

Jones plays one of Ryan's henchmen, and he's got a great scene opposite Martin after the bank robbers escape a shootout in the middle of town.

Jones also appeared in the WWII drama "Battle of the Coral Sea" (1959), the Korean War movie "Iron Angel" (1964), "Casino" (1995), "The Edge" (1997), "The Patriot" (1998) and "The Mask of Zorro" (1998).

On television, he did guest spots on shows like "Rawhide," "Wagon Train," "Perry Mason," "Have Gun - Will Travel," "The Rifleman," "The Big Valley," "Hawaii Five-O," "Lancer," "The Virginian," "The F.B.I.," "Gunsmoke," "Cannon," "Ironside," "Kung Fu," "McCloud," "CHiPs," "Columbo," "Vega$," "Charlie's Angels," "The Dukes of Hazzard," "The Fall Guy," "The A-Team" and "Walker, Texas Ranger."

Jones wrote and directed one movie, the 1975 classic "A Boy and His Dog," based on a novella by Army vet Harlan Ellison. Future "Miami Vice" star Don Johnson stars as a survivor of World War IV who negotiates a post-apocalyptic world with the aid of his dog, "Blood," an animal who somehow gained telepathic powers in the wartime chaos.

The movie's fans think it's profound. While it was a relative flop on initial release, "A Boy and His Dog" has become something of a cult classic over the past five decades.

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