John Quade was a prolific character actor who appeared in dozens of TV shows and movies, most notably as the villainous leader of the motorcycle gang the Black Widows in the Clint Eastwood films Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can. He also played the sheriff in the acclaimed TV miniseries Roots, based on the novel by Alex Haley. Quade died in 2009 at the age of 71, leaving behind a legacy of memorable performances. But what was the cause of his death?
Early Life and Career
Quade was born John William Saunders III on April 1, 1938, in Kansas City, Kansas. He attended Perry Rural High School and Highland Park High School, where he excelled in sports and joined various clubs. He later enrolled at Washburn University, but dropped out after one semester. He worked for the Santa Fe Railway repair shop in Topeka, before moving to California to pursue a career as an aerospace engineer. He worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he helped construct parts that are still on the moon.
Quade’s acting career began by chance, when he was approached by a talent scout at a restaurant in Pasadena. He made his TV debut in 1968 on the show Bonanza, and his film debut in 1972 in The Last of the Mohicans. He soon became a familiar face on the screen, often playing tough and menacing characters. He worked with Clint Eastwood four times, in High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Every Which Way But Loose, and Any Which Way You Can. He also appeared in Papillon, The Sting II, The Last Hard Men, and The Choirboys, among others.
Quade also had a successful TV career, starring in two short-lived series, Flatbush and Lucky Luke. He guest-starred on many popular shows, such as Kojak, Gunsmoke, Starsky & Hutch, Vega$, The Rockford Files, The Dukes Of Hazzard, Knight Rider, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Galactica 1980, The A-Team, and On the Air. He also had a prominent role in the TV miniseries Roots, as Sheriff Briggs, who arrests Kunta Kinte for trying to escape from slavery. Quade’s last acting credit was in 1993, in the film Lightning in a Bottle.
Personal Life and Beliefs
Quade was married to Gwendolyn Rice from 1970 until his death. They had four children and lived in Rosamond, California. Quade was a devout Christian and a staunch advocate of individual rights and freedoms. He was a vocal critic of the government and the legal system, and a supporter of the sovereign citizen movement, which rejects the authority of federal and state laws. He also believed in the flat earth theory, and claimed that NASA faked the moon landing. He often spoke at seminars and rallies, and hosted a radio show called The Common Law Hour.
Cause of Death
Quade died in his sleep of natural causes on August 9, 2009, at his home in Rosamond. He was 71 years old. His wife Gwen announced his death on his website, and thanked his fans for their prayers and condolences. She also requested that donations be made to the John Quade Memorial Fund, which supports various causes that Quade believed in. Quade’s funeral was held on August 15, 2009, at the Wayside Chapel in Rosamond. He was buried at the Joshua Memorial Park in Lancaster, California.
Quade’s death was mourned by his family, friends, and fans, who remembered him as a talented and versatile actor, and a passionate and outspoken individual. He left behind a rich and diverse body of work, that showcased his range and charisma. He will always be remembered as one of the best character actors of his generation.