Tom Reese Cause of Death: How the Burly Actor Famous for His Movie Fistfights Passed Away

Tom Reese was a menacing-looking character actor who had his share of memorable onscreen fistfights and appeared in the noteworthy “The Midnight Sun” episode of The Twilight Zone. He died at the age of 89 in December 2017. Here is what we know about his life and death.

Early Life and Career

Tom Reese was born as Tom Allen on August 8, 1928, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His father and uncle were country-western singers known as “The Allen Brothers”, who traveled and performed bluegrass music with the family. Reese served two tours in the United States Marine Corps, and was a military policeman. His G.I. Bill enabled him to study dramatics at the American Theater Wing. He spent fifteen years on the road working nightclubs, studied with Lee Strasberg, and performed off-Broadway and in local TV shows.

His film debut was in John Cassavetes’ New York-made Shadows (1958). His next film credit was in the Elvis Presley western Flaming Star (1960), where he played the cowpoke named Jute who has a knock-down, drag-out with Presley. He also appeared in films such as Marines, Let’s Go (1961), 40 Pounds of Trouble (1962), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Vanishing Point (1971), and Sleeper (1973), among others.

His television debut was also in a Cassavetes project, the detective series Johnny Staccato (1959). He made guest appearances in shows such as Bonanza, The Fugitive, Gunsmoke, The Twilight Zone, The Untouchables, The Wild Wild West, and Wonder Woman, among others. He had a recurring role as Sergeant Thomas Velie in the series Ellery Queen (1975-76). He also appeared in miniseries and movies, such as Dick Tracy (1967), Once an Eagle (1976), and The Virginia Hill Story (1974).

At 6’3″ and around 230 pounds, Reese was known for his physical presence and his ability to handle fight scenes. He went up against actors such as James Arness, Chuck Connors, Tony Curtis, Glen Ford, Dean Martin, and Elvis Presley, among others. In a comedic fight opposite Woody Allen in Sleeper (1973), Reese was out of action for twelve weeks after being injured.

Cause of Death

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Reese died on December 12, 2017, at a hospice facility in Studio City, California, after a brief illness. His longtime friend Charles Leinenweber confirmed his death. He was 89 years old.

Reese is survived by his son, Tom Jr., his daughter, Tracy, and his grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Marilyn, who died in 2015.

Reese was a respected and versatile actor who left a mark on the film and television industry. He will be remembered for his roles in westerns, dramas, comedies, and sci-fi. He was a burly actor famous for his movie fistfights, but also a talented performer who could handle any genre. He was Tom Reese, and he will be missed.

Doms Desk

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