Tom Laughlin
American actor and political activist
Tom Laughlin
Thomas Robert "Tom" Laughlin is an American actor, director, screenwriter, author, educator and political activist. Laughlin is best known for his series of Billy Jack films. He has been married to Delores Taylor since 1954. Taylor has also co-produced and acted in all four of the Billy Jack films. His unique promotion of The Trial of Billy Jack was a major influence on the way films are marketed.
Tom Laughlin's personal information overview.
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Hollywood, It's Time To Stand Up
Huffington Post - 3 months
One morning, over breakfast, my father said to me "If a man can't go his own way, he's nothing. The moment you give up what you stand for for fame or money, that's the moment you lose your soul." Yeah, it's heavy talk for a kid over Rice Crispies, but, my Dad was a pretty deep guy. And, he was a man who stood up, and spoke the truth. Sometimes, it made me cringe with nervousness. But, in the end, it was what made me most proud. And that was how that morning's particular chat started. I asked why more people like him didn't stand up and speak up. He told me the truth. Hollywood is full of pussies. It always has been. There have always been those that bowed out from doing the right thing, and hid behind whatever cloak they think made their cowardice palatable. And then, there were those few. The mavericks. The do-what-is-righters, no matter what the cost is on the other end of maintaining their integrity. The ones that stood up to be counted on the right side of history. The ...
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Huffington Post article
One step away from O2
Sleaford Standard - almost 5 years
LONDON could be calling an up-and-coming band after they moved one step closer to performing at one of the biggest UK festivals. Sleaford band the Blonde Mistake have triumphed once again after making it through the regional finals of Live and Unsigned, the UK’s largest music competition for musicians and bands, in Derby. The band, made up of guitarists Peter Gannan and Tom Laughlin, Alex ‘Titch’ Richardson on bass and drummer Tom Wiles, will now perform at the area finals at the Corn Exchange in Bedford on May 13 for the chance to be crowned the UK’s best unsigned act and perform live at Live Fest, the UK’s largest indoor festival, at the 02 Arena in London. Feedback from the judges at the regional final in Derby was more than complimentary, with one comment simply stating: “10 out of 10. Excellent. Change nothing! Loved the image.” Peter said of the band’s success: “We are ecstatic. This competition has got the band working harder than ever. Even though the competition looks very ...
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Sleaford Standard article
Student Hunger Drive's Corporate Challenge kicks off - Quad-Cities Online
Google News - over 5 years
"Demand for our services is at an unprecedented high", said Tom Laughlin, Executive Director of River Bend Food Bank. "The Corporate Challenge is a great way for the business community to join us in our daily battle against hunger"
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Google News article
Today's Birthdays - Sports Radio ESPN 1420
Google News - over 5 years
Actor Tom Laughlin is 80. (Born 1931) His credits include the "Billy Jack" movies and the film "The Master Gunfighter." Singer Ronnie Spector is 68. (Born 1943) She was a member of the group The Ronettes. Musician Ian Anderson is 64
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Google News article
Fancy word, simple advice - Orlando Sentinel
Google News - over 5 years
(Boy, Tom Laughlin must be ancient by now.) •You know how to flail, don't you? You put your hands in the air and grasp at nothing. •Congratulations to new Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar, who were inducted Sunday along with baseball
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Google News article
Billy Jack's Moral Revolution ruling: $70K judgement despite 100% investment ... - Westword (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
But that hasn't stopped director/star Tom Laughlin from trying to milk his primary claim to fame after the cow's gone dry. And you can bet a judgment against him for not repaying a Fort Collins investor by a contractual deadline won't, either
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Google News article
A nutty slippery 'sovereign' slope -
Google News - almost 6 years
While the "sovereign three-card monte marks" are made up of disaffected, often financially struggling illiterates, the movement has managed to ensnare folks like former Sarasota police Detective Tom Laughlin, who was forced from his job after signing
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Google News article
B-movie stars and more at this week's Cult Fiction Drive-in convention - Florida Times-Union
Google News - almost 6 years
High-kicking Tom Laughlin of "Billy Jack" fame, for example, couldn't be landed. Perhaps he'll come if there's a second Cult Fiction event. But they did get a number of stars from their favorite movies (Dyanne Thorne of "Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS," for
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Google News article
Donate food at your mailbox May 14 - WQAD
Google News - almost 6 years
“Leaving out a single food item at your mailbox absolutely makes a difference –it's amazing how it all adds up”, says Tom Laughlin, executive director of River Bend Foodbank. “Right now we greatly need food donations to help the more than 10000 people
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Google News article
On this Day... 40 years ago 'Billy Jack' comes out kickin' - The Huntsville Times - (blog)
Google News - almost 6 years
On this day in 1971, teen counterculture classic Billy Jack was released to theaters by the film's director, co-writer and bad-*** star himself, Tom Laughlin. It did not do well initially but was re-released two years later and managed to become a
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Google News article
Bong Soo Han, 73, Orchestrator Of Martial Arts Scenes
NYTimes - about 10 years
Bong Soo Han, a Korean martial arts master who helped revolutionize Hollywood's understanding of martial arts by creating fight sequences for modern American films, died on Monday at his home in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 73. The International Hapkido Federation, which Mr. Han founded, announced the death but did not disclose the cause. Mr. Han
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NYTimes article
Billy Jack Is Ready to Fight the Good Fight Again
NYTimes - over 11 years
It has been more than 30 years, but Billy Jack is still plenty ticked off. Back then, it was bigotry against Native Americans, trouble with the nuclear power industry and big bad government that made this screen hero explode in karate-fueled rage. At the time, the unlikely combination of rugged-loner heroics -- all in defense of society's
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NYTimes article
BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Hollywood's Attack Of the Monster Releases
NYTimes - over 12 years
WIDE OPEN How Hollywood Box Office Became a National Obsession By Dade Hayes and Jonathan Bing 432 pages. Miramax Books. $23.95. All across this land, 9-year-old children can identify the film that racked up the highest gross revenues last weekend. How do they know? More importantly, why do they care? In a level-headed new book about movie
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NYTimes article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Tom Laughlin
  • 2013
    Age 81
    Tom Laughlin died of complications from pneumonia on December 12, 2013 at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California.
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  • 2010
    Age 78
    In 2010, Frank, Chris, and Theresa Laughlin, founded Billy Jack Rights, LLC, which manages the rights to all of Tom Laughlin's films, including the Billy Jack franchise.
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  • 2009
    Age 77
    In 2009, Laughlin released plot details of this film on a video on his website.
    More Details Hide Details The video contained several scenes from the film.
  • 2008
    Age 76
    He released several videos and writings during the 2008 election.
    More Details Hide Details Although not a professionally trained psychologist, Laughlin had an interest in psychology, having studied the subject independently. A 1975 profile of Laughlin in People magazine mentioned his deep interest in psychology and mentioned that he had a personal "dream secretary" to whom Laughlin told his recollections of his dreams. They were written down to be analyzed later. Laughlin lectured on Jungian psychology at universities and colleges throughout the United States since the 1970s, including Yale University and Stanford University In 1995, because of his background in football and psychology, he was brought in to counsel University of Nebraska football player Lawrence Phillips after Phillips' suspension from the team. He said of Phillips at the time, "He should not be rewarded by being allowed to play unless there is real substantive change. I don't mean surface change. But if he does change, then he's not only going to not batter this girl, he's not going to batter the girl he marries at 30 and 35. If he just pretends to change, of course he should not be allowed to play, but Lawrence has already been sanctioned in ways other batterers on this campus are not".
    He ran again for President in 2008 as a Democrat, getting 47 votes in the New Hampshire primary.
    More Details Hide Details Laughlin was an outspoken critic of the Iraq War and President George W. Bush. His website presented several writings calling the Iraq conflict worse than the Vietnam War, in addition to pieces on what he called "realistic exit strategies." He devotes several pages of the Billy Jack website to reasons that he feels justify an impeachment of George W. Bush and repeatedly stated the need for a viable, mainstream third political party. In addition, he criticized what he called the "Christian right", which he called "false Evangelicals", "false prophets", and the "Christo-fascist movement."
    In 2008, the film's title was changed to Billy Jack for President.
    More Details Hide Details It was re-titled Billy Jack and Jean. Laughlin claimed it would be a "new genre of film" and a great deal of social commentary on politics, religion, and psychology will be discussed, and a debate will take place between Billy Jack and President George W. Bush via computer manipulation of archived speeches.
  • 2004
    Age 72
    He ran for president again in 2004, this time as a Republican.
    More Details Hide Details Campaigning as an opponent of the Iraq War, he received 154 votes in the New Hampshire primary against U.S. President George W. Bush. He again was not allowed to participate in the debates.
  • 1992
    Age 60
    He participated in the Independent presidential candidates Debate on March 25, 1992, along with former U.S. Senator Eugene J. McCarthy and others who had been excluded from the major debates.
    More Details Hide Details However, he was seen by much of the press as a "fringe candidate." Laughlin later protested at being excluded from the primary ballot in his home state of Wisconsin at the same time that David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan was included. After dropping out of the race, he worked as an advisor to the campaign of Ross Perot.
    In his later years, Laughlin turned his attention to politics. In 1992, as a protest he sought the Democratic Party nomination for U.S. President.
    More Details Hide Details He told the Milwaukee Sentinel, "I am the least qualified person I know to be President, except George Bush." He appeared on the primary ballots in New Hampshire and Louisiana. He campaigned on a platform of a tax cut for "ordinary Americans", term limits, an overhaul of public education, universal health care, and nuclear disarmament. While campaigning for the Iowa caucus he said of fellow candidate and Iowan, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin: "I think he's a sleazebag. I despise him." Excluded from debates by party officials who did not consider him a serious candidate, Laughlin received 1,986 votes in the New Hampshire primary. He blamed the results on lack of cooperation by the Democratic Party, which allowed him and other candidates only five minutes to speak at the state's convention while giving the five front-runners 20 minutes each.
    In his later years, he sought the office of President of the United States in 1992, 2004, and 2008.
    More Details Hide Details He was involved in psychology and domestic abuse counseling, writing several books on Jungian psychology and developing theories on the causes of cancer. Laughlin was born in Minneapolis, and grew up in Milwaukee, where he attended Washington High School. While in high school, he was involved in an athletic controversy that made headlines throughout the city. It was caused by Laughlin being forced to attend another school for a brief period, making him ineligible to play football at his former school on his return. Laughlin attended college at the University of Wisconsin, before transferring to Marquette University; he played football at both. He played safety and halfback at Marquette. Laughlin decided to become an actor after seeing a production of A Streetcar Named Desire. According to a 1956 newspaper interview, he became involved in the drama program at Marquette after being encouraged by a university professor, Father John J. Walsh. While a student he formed a stock group and directed and starred in a production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons. He finally transferred to the University of South Dakota, where he majored in radio acting, directing and producing. He met his future wife Delores Taylor in South Dakota.
  • 1985
    Age 53
    In 1985, he made a fifth Billy Jack film, The Return of Billy Jack, which featured the title character fighting child pornographers in New York City.
    More Details Hide Details However, he suffered a concussion and neck injury during the production, which led to the film being shut down. In 2009, several scenes from this unfinished film were released on Laughlin's website. A notable incident occurred while he was filming in New York City, when he broke up a street fight on Manhattan's West Side, threatening to rip a man's arm off. He garnered notoriety at this time for making a citizen's arrest of a man after an argument over Laughlin's driving. Laughlin had sought funding for a fifth Billy Jack film since at least 1996, when he spoke about it during a lawsuit against a man who had (Laughlin claimed) illegally changed his name to "Billy Jack", and at one point Laughlin had plans to make a Billy Jack television series. In 2004 he announced that the film would be entitled Billy Jack's Crusade to End the War in Iraq and Restore America to Its Moral Purpose; this was shortened to Billy Jack's Moral Revolution in 2006.
  • 1984
    Age 52
    In 1984, he purchased a series of twelve advertisements in Variety condemning various aspects of the film industry and its treatment of independent filmmakers.
    More Details Hide Details He created a blueprint for taking control of the home video distribution industry as a way for independent films to be seen. This plan was a failure.
  • 1978
    Age 46
    In the years after the failure of Billy Jack Goes to Washington, Laughlin played small roles in a couple of films, such as The Big Sleep in 1978 and his last acting role was The Legend of the Lone Ranger in 1981.
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  • 1976
    Age 44
    In 1976, Laughlin announced that he was more than $7 million in debt and blamed the financial troubles on unethical behavior by Warner Bros.
    More Details Hide Details Pictures, which he said had illegally sold the television rights to his films.
  • 1974
    Age 42
    The second sequel, The Trial of Billy Jack, released in late 1974, was a huge box office hit, while not registering as quite as big a critical success.
    More Details Hide Details It is notable for its casting of Native American icons such as Sacheen Littlefeather and Rolling Thunder, as well as its strong criticism of the Kent State shootings. However, Laughlin's unique promotion of the film was its real legacy. Unlike most films of the era which opened in only a few cities before gradually spreading across the country, The Trial of Billy Jack opened in cities nationwide on the same day and commercials were broadcast for it during the national news. This promotion forever changed the way films are marketed and has been called "the first blockbuster." In 1975, Laughlin released The Master Gunfighter, a western set in the 1840s, detailing the plight of the Chumash people. Laughlin grew a full beard for the film and his character fought with both a 12-shot revolver and a samurai sword. Although it did reasonably well at the box office, critics were not pleased with the film. He returned to the Billy Jack franchise in 1977. However, the fourth entry in the series, Billy Jack Goes to Washington was a failure because of distribution problems, and it proved to be Laughlin's last film as a director. Laughlin blamed individuals within the United States government for the failure of the film, telling CNN's Showbiz Tonight in 2005: At a private screening, Senator Vance Hartke Hartke was not re-elected in 1976 got up, because it was about how the Senate was bought out by the nuclear industry.
  • 1971
    Age 39
    He followed this up with the sequel to The Born Losers, Billy Jack, in 1971.
    More Details Hide Details Although he made the film, like all of his films, independently and with his own money, several studios agreed to distribute it. American International Pictures refused to release the film unless many of the political references – as well as frontal nudity – were cut. This led the Laughlins to withhold the sound reels of the film, which in effect made it a silent film. Eventually, Warner Bros. released it, but Laughlin, upset with the studio's marketing of the film, sued to get it back, and re-released the film himself. The film's re-release was successful but controversial. Roger Ebert, in his review of the film, wrote, "Billy Jack seems to be saying that a gun is better than a constitution in the enforcement of justice. Is democracy totally obsolete, then? Is our only hope that the good fascists defeat the bad fascists?"
  • 1967
    Age 35
    Two years later, in 1967, he wrote, directed (as T. C. Frank) and starred in the motorcycle-gang exploitation film The Born Losers.
    More Details Hide Details This was the first film in which the character of Billy Jack appeared. It was a box-office hit. The film featured a late-career appearance by Jane Russell. After The Born Losers, Laughlin was set to begin a film project with backing from such figures as Marlon Brando, Jack Lemmon, Candice Bergen, and director Robert Wise. The film was to be a documentary on the issues facing African Americans in the 1960s and would have focused greatly on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. followed by a discussion of race. However, the film was never made.
  • 1965
    Age 33
    In 1965, Laughlin told the Milwaukee Sentinel that he planned to make a film on the life of a noted Catholic priest, Father William DuBay.
    More Details Hide Details However, the film did not get past the planning stages.
  • 1961
    Age 29
    By 1961, Laughlin had left the film business to devote all of his time to the school, which by 1964 had become the largest school of its kind in the United States.
    More Details Hide Details It was profiled by Time magazine in July of that year. However, by 1965, the school had gone bankrupt. One of his students was Christian Brando, son of Laughlin's friend, Marlon Brando.
  • 1960
    Age 28
    Laughlin made his directorial debut later that year with The Proper Time, though the film wasn't released until 1960.
    More Details Hide Details The film was a romantic drama set on the campus of University of California, Los Angeles. Laughlin shot the film on the campus in six days working with a $20,000 budget. Laughlin wrote, directed, and starred in The Young Sinner. Originally filmed in 1960, and shot in Milwaukee over a period of 14 days, it is the story of a star high school athlete who falls deeper and deeper into trouble after being caught in bed with his girlfriend. The film was intended to be the first of a trilogy entitled We Are All Christ. It premiered in 1963 under the original title Among the Thorns, which was changed to The Young Sinner upon its 1965 re-release. In 1960, Laughlin planned to make a film, Poison in Our Land, based on the true story of a Texas couple affected by atomic radiation, but the project was never realized.
  • 1959
    Age 27
    In 1959, Laughlin and his wife founded a Montessori preschool in Santa Monica, California.
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  • 1957
    Age 25
    Laughlin's first starring role was in Robert Altman's 1957 film The Delinquents, in which he played Scotty White, a teenager who gets mixed up with a gang when he is told he can no longer see his girlfriend.
    More Details Hide Details Despite the film's low budget, it became a cult film, with Alfred Hitchcock among its fans. However, Laughlin and Altman did not get along well, having sharply differing views on acting; Altman later describing Laughlin as "an unbelievable pain in the ass."
  • 1955
    Age 23
    He began his on-screen acting career in the 1955 television series Climax!
    More Details Hide Details From there he went on to appear in several feature films including: These Wilder Years, Lafayette Escadrille, Tea and Sympathy and South Pacific. He appeared in several episodes of various television series throughout the late 1950s. In 1959, he was cast as young Tom Fowler in the episode "The Fight Back" of the NBC western series, Riverboat. In the story line, Fowler has made himself the boss of Hampton, a corrupt river town near Vicksburg, Mississippi. He blocks farmers from shipping their crops to market. In a dispute over a wedding held on the river vessel, the Enterprise, a lynch mob led by Fowler comes after Captain Grey Holden (series star Darren McGavin). Also appearing in this episode are John Ireland as Chris Slade and Karl Swenson as Ansel Torgin. In 1959, Laughlin appeared in the film Gidget as "Lover Boy". However, he failed to make any money in the early years, having told People magazine in 1975, "We were living on $5 a week and eating Spam. I stole Christmas cards from a church so I could write home saying how well we were, but then I couldn't afford the stamps."
  • 1954
    Age 22
    Laughlin married Delores Taylor in 1954.
    More Details Hide Details They had three children: Frank, Teresa, and Christina. His daughter Teresa (known by the family as T.C.) is a fashion designer. He derived at least two of his pseudonyms from his children: Frank Laughlin, his son's name and the name he used to direct The Trial of Billy Jack and The Master Gunfighter, and T.C. Frank, which stood for Teresa Christina Frank. In 2001, it was announced that Laughlin was suffering from a cancer of the tongue that was inoperable. His website claimed the cancer was in remission. His book, The Psychology of Cancer, was about faith, attitude and other factors that might affect cancer. On November 20, 2007, he posted a video on YouTube explaining that poor health had caused him to leave his website in a dormant state. The site was later revived. Laughlin suffered from Celiac disease, an auto-immune disorder, and suffered a series of strokes. In the video, he announced that he had his health issues under control, that he updated the website, and was planning a new Billy Jack film. However, that film was never made.
    Laughlin wrote the original screenplay for the film Billy Jack in 1954, after witnessing the treatment of Native Americans in his wife's hometown, Winner, South Dakota. The two wed on October 15, 1954.
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    Laughlin was best known for his series of Billy Jack films. He was married to actress Delores Taylor from 1954 until his death.
    More Details Hide Details Taylor co-produced and acted in all four of the Billy Jack films. His unique promotion of The Trial of Billy Jack (TV trailers during national news and an "opening day" nationwide release) was a major influence on the way films are marketed. In the early 1960s, Laughlin put his film career on hiatus to start a Montessori preschool in Santa Monica, California; it became the largest school of its kind in the United States.
  • 1931
    Born on August 10, 1931.
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