Turning 90, L.Q. Jones Reflects on Hollywood Journey
For over 50 years, L.Q. Jones was a familiar supporting character actor in some 100 films and hundreds more television shows. Lanky, tough, and athletic, he could tackle any role although was often cast as the 'heavy’ in westerns and dramas, projecting the 'bad guy’ image with merely a sinister smirk or a menacing twinkle in the eye.
Over summer (August 19) Jones turned 90, and 2 days later hosted a showing of “The Wild Bunch” at Grauman's (now the TCL) Chinese Theatre. Born and raised in Texas as Justus McQueen, relatives took care of the young boy after his mother was killed in a car accident.
“I was born in Beaumont, although they may try to disclaim me, but it’s too late now!” said Jones from his home in LA. “We moved around quite a bit, to Houston to Dallas to Oklahoma City, back to Beaumont, and finally Port Neches. I had a horse by the time I was 8 or 9, and grew up around tough rodeo people – my uncle was into roping – so westerns were easy and fun.”
In college, at the University of Texas at Austin, his roommate for over a year was Fess Parker. While the future 'Daniel Boone’ actor moved west to Hollywood, McQueen headed south and took up ranching in Nicaragua. When Parker sent his buddy a copy of Leon Uris’s war novel “Battle Cry,” about to be filmed, McQueen thought one character could be his ticket to fame and was encouraged by Parker to come out to Hollywood.
“Within 2 days of arriving, I had the part of L.Q. Jones in 'Battle Cry’ and probably would never have been in the business had it not been for Fess.”
Despite lacking Hollywood experience, McQueen had worked some comedy acts during college to help pay the bills, and played the comic relief character in the 1955 war drama like a veteran.