SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Victor Jory, the chiseled-faced, raspy-voiced actor who played dozens of movie and TV villains including the brutal slave master in 'Gone With The Wind,' was found dead Friday. He was 79.
Police said the actor was found in his apartment slumped in a chair in front of his television set. It was believed he died of natural causes as early as Wednesday.
An acting student left a note saying Jory had failed to show for an acting class he taught Thursday, and officers were called to the home shortly after noon Friday.
'It appears to be a natural death,' Sgt. Richard Johncola said. 'A doctor was there and the body was turned over to the family.'
Jory, a gentle man as interested in writing as in acting, was one of the screen's most successful villains and character actors.
He played bad guys in most of his more than 115 movies, the most memorable of which was 'Gone With the Wind.' He portrayed Jonas Wilkerson, the whip-lashing overseer at the plantation Tara, and his death leaves Olivia de Havilland and Butterfly McQueen as the only surviving members of the 1939 classic's featured cast.
Later in his career Jory, co-starred with Pat McVey as the crusty police Lt. Finucaine in the television series 'Manhunt.'
Jory was born in Dawson City, Alaska, on Nov. 23, 1902. His mother, Joanna, edited a newspaper in Skagway.
He joined the Pasadena Playhouse in 1917 and made his acting debut there in 'Master of Shadows' in 1918. For the next 12 years, he toured the United States with stock companies.
In 1930, Jory made his Broadway debut in 'Berkeley Square,' and followed it with featured roles in 'Tonight or Never,' 'What Every Woman Knows' and 'Command To Love.'
Two years later he played the lead in 'Louder Please' at the Pasadena Playhouse. A talent scout saw him and he made his motion picture debut in 'Sailor's Luck.'
Other films, including many Westerns in which his roles ranged from gunfighters to Indian chiefs, quickly followed. He played Injun Joe in 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.'
In 1940, Jory quit Hollywood temporarily to return to Broadway for such plays as 'Angel Street,' 'The Two Mrs. Carrolls,' 'Perfect Marriage,' 'Liliom' and 'Terese.' He also wrote two New York stage plays, 'Five Who Were Mad' and 'Bodies By Fisher.'
His later movies included 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' in which he played Oberon, 'State Fair,' in which he was the barker, 'Loves of Carmen,' 'The Man Who Turned to Stone,' 'The Miracle Worker,' in which he played the father, 'Cheyenne Autumn' and 'A Time for Dying.'
Jory also appeared in more than 200 radio shows and many television shows -- including the role of Dr. Tower in the 'Kings Row' series - and also recorded many children's records.
Jory married actress Jean Innes in 1929, and the couple had two children.
He once held the amateur light heavyweight boxing title in British Columbia and the National Guard wrestling and boxing titles in the United States and worked for a time at a Canadian lumber camp following his graduation from UC Berkeley.
Jory is survived by a son, Jon, artistic director of the Actors' Theater in Louisville, Ky., and a daughter, Jean Anderson, from Utah. Funeral arrangements were pending.