McKinney’s Facebook page announced his death with a note that he had suffered from esophageal cancer. Bill McKinney was 80 years old.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee (9/12/31) he had a rather unsteady childhood, as he moved with his parents 12 times before joining the Navy when he was 19 during the Korean War. As he told Maxim (see below) he was once thrown into a creek in Georgia, just for being from Tennessee.
During his 4 year tenure in the Navy, part of it on a mine sweeper in Korean waters, he decided to become an actor, if he would survive the war. Supporting himself as an arborist, he attended acting school at the famous Pasadena Playhouse with class mate Dustin Hoffman. After a stint at another famous acting school, the Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio, he made his debut in the B-movie "She Freak" (1967). Staring in TV series like "The Monkees," "I Dream of Jeannie" or as Lobo in "Alias Smith and Jones" kept him busy, but it wasn't until 1972, where he got the attention as a horrendous villain, when he became the Mountain Man in "Deliverance."
Although only credited as the “Mountain Man,” the rape scene with it's legendary saying "Squeal like a pig" cemented the film and McKinney's legacy. Co-star Burt Reynolds later wrote in his autobiography that McKinney was a bit nuts, and probably would have raped Ned Beatty for real. McKinney denied that in his Maxim article, but it seems he did enjoy his infamous minutes of movie history; his official website even carried the web-address www.squeallikeapig.com - (Update 1/13/2013 - website doesn't exist anymore.).
Film critic Leonard Maltin described McKinney in his review of the movie "Deliverance" as, "one of the most terrifying film villains in history." And yes, even more than thirty years later, man magazine Maxim named the two mountain man (the other being Herbert "Cowboy" Coward) as the top movie villains of all time. "Maxim Goes to the Movies."
Other notable directors got interested in McKinney and he normally became the villain or the outlaw - often in westerns - like John Huston's "The Life And Times Of Judge Roy Bean," Sam Peckinpah's "Junior Bonner," or John Wayne's last film "The Shootist."
|McKinney as Dallas in "Any Which Way You Can"|
In 1974 he was cast as the "crazy driver" in Michael Cimino's "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" along side Clint Eastwood. The collaboration got him into Eastwood's stock company and McKinney would star in seven Eastwood films, most notably as Lefty Lebow in "Bronco Billy" and as Captain "Red Legs" Terrill in "The Outlaw: Josey Wales" upto 1989 "Pink Cadillac" after which Eastwood closed the Malpaso Company.
Terrill in "The Outlaw Josey Wales"
Other notable roles included the shadowy killer, simply credited as the Parallax Assassin in Alan J. Pakula's "The Parrallax View," a State Police Captain in Sylvester Stallone's Rambo in "First Blood," a train engineer in "Back To The Future III," the head coach in "Against All Odds" and as executioner Jack Van Hay in "The Green Mile."
McKinney could also seen in many TV shows, like "Starsky And Hutch," "B.J. And The Bear," "Bret Maverick," "The Yellow Rose," "The Fall Guy," "The A-Team," "Houston Knights," "Baywatch" and "Walker, Texas Ranger" just to name a few.
In the late '90s, McKinney also started singing (his self-released pop/country album "Love Songs From [sic] Antri" could be found and purchased on his website. (2013 - non existent anymore)
(Update 1/13/2013 - there are and were some broken links I tried to fix)