Herbert ‘Cowboy’ Coward, who is best known for his role in Deliverance, reportedly passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 24. He was 85 years old at the time of his death.
According to Us Weekly, Coward died in a car crash on U.S. 19/23 between Clyde and Canton in Haywood County, North Carolina. The NC State Highway Patrol confirmed that the actor, his girlfriend, Bertha Brooks, their pet Chihuahua, and squirrel were all killed in the crash.
It was reported that Herbert ‘Cowboy’ Coward was turning onto the highway when he was hit by an ongoing truck, which was driven by a 16-year-old, who was not believed to be speeding. Both Coward and Brooks were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. The teen driver was later taken to the hospital and did not sustain any injuries.
Coward was declared by the NC State Highway Patrol at fault for the accident as he failed to yield to traffic.
Before dating Brooks, Herbert ‘Cowboy’ Coward was married to Dorothy Ledford for 51 years before her death in Sept. 2011. They had four children together.
Burt Reynolds Spoke About Recommending Herbert ‘Cowboy’ Coward For ‘Deliverance’ Role
In 2018, Burt Reynolds spoke to Conan O’Brien about recommending Herbert ‘Cowboy’ Coward for the Deliverance role.
“John Boorman, an Irish director, the best director I ever had, said, ‘Where am I gonna find these guys … the Mountain Men?’” Reynolds recalled. “And I said, ‘I know a guy. He can’t read and he can’t write or anything, but I’m telling you, if we can get him we got something special.’ So I said, ‘Let me bring him in. His name’s Cowboy, and you’ll see if you like him.”
After Coward did his audition, Reynolds knew he was meant for the role. During the filming, Reynolds told Coward, ‘Cowboy just whatever you wanna say, say it. They’ll cut it out if they don’t like it.’ He just started ad-libbing up a storm. And they kept every word he said because it was gold.”
According to IMDb, Deliverance’s description reads, “Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it’s dammed and turned into a lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a canoeing trip they’ll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.”
Those who also starred in the film were Jon Voight, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox, Ed Ramey, and Billy Redden. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing during the 1973 Oscars.