Thistle Cottage’s February spotlight features acclaimed screen actor Warren Oates.
“Warren Oates” was never a household name, but he made his mark all the same. Oates worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood: Peter Fonda, Bill Murray, Diane Ladd, Jack Nicholson, Sidney Poitier, the list goes on and on. He was Dillinger in the 1973 biopic of the same name about the famous gangster. He was Sergeant Hulka in 1981’s Stripes.
And before all of that, he was Warren Oates of Depoy.
Oates was born in 1928 to Sarah and Bayless Oates. Bayless owned and operated a general store in the small rural community of Depoy, near Graham.
The family moved to Louisville, where Oates developed an interest in acting. As an adult, he moved to New York City and then Los Angeles to pursue a career. He scored several TV guest spots in the 1950s on shows such as Rawhide, Gunsmoke and others. Oates made his first movie appearance in 1959, but he was primarily a television actor until the mid-to-late 1960s, when he earned roles in The Shooting (1966) with Jack Nicholson, Return of the Magnificent Seven (1966) with Yul Brynner, In the Heat of the Night (1967) with Sidney Poitier and director Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969) with William Holden and Ernest Borgnine.
Even though he was primarily a supporting actor with only a few starring roles, Oates continued acting in movies and TV until the 1980s. He died of a heart attack in 1982 at the age of 53, with more than 40 movie credits to his name as well as numerous TV roles. His last two movies, Blue Thunder and Tough Enough, were released posthumously in 1983, and both were dedicated to Oates.
The Warren Oates exhibit, featuring memorabilia related to Oates’s life and acting career, will be on display in the gallery at Thistle Cottage through the end of February.
For more information about the exhibit, contact Muhlenberg County Public Libraries’ Thistle Cottage at 270-338-4760.