By Liz Kelly Nelson
"Squeal like a pig." A simple line, but it became the defining moment of actor Bill McKinney's career. The character actor, whose line became an enduring part of American pop culture, died at 80 on Thursday after a battle with lung cancer, reports TMZ.
A statement posted to his official Facebook page serves as an epitaph:
"Today our dear Bill McKinney passed away at Valley Presbyterian Hospice. An avid smoker for 25 years of his younger life, he died of cancer of the esophagus. He was 80 and still strong enough to have filmed a Dorito's commercial 2 weeks prior to his passing, and he continued to work on his biography with his writing partner. Hopefully 2012 will bring a publisher for the wild ride his life was. He is survived by son Clinton, along with several ex-wives. R.I.P. Bill sept.12 1931 - dec. 1 2011."
Rather than try to distance himself from the line, McKinney embraced the role that etched him in our collective memory, even naming his official website squeallikeapig.com. He got his start in acting in the late 1960s in the movie "She Freak," then made his TV debut in 1968 in a bit part on "The Monkees."
In 1972, "Deliverance" came calling and the rest is history. In the movie, McKinney played a sadistic mountain man who terrorizes Burt Reynolds and his river-rafting trip companions Jon Voight and Ned Beatty.
"He always played sickos, but he played them well," said Reynolds of his co-star.
McKinney went on to character work in a long string of movies and became something of a staple in Clint Eastwood movies, most memorably as Capt. "Redlegs" Terrell in "The Outlaw Josey Wales." He also popped up in several more recent movies, including "The Green Mile" and "City Slickers."
Why did they put in the part about smoking? You usually leave stuff like that out of obituaries.
He lived beyond the average for a man in the US.
And plenty of people get throat cancer who never smoked (1 in 3 lung cancer deaths are not due to smoking or second hand smoke).
I liked him as a villain. Deliverance has nothing on the Outlaw Josey Wales. But I had forgot he was in some of those other roles.
Rest In Peace McKinney. Without you those movies wouldn't have been as good. And even though you played the bad guy, you entertained and brought happiness to millions.
A movie is only as good as the villain. An actor, who makes you hate him, has done his job well.
Rest in Peace. You did a great job of entertaining many.