R.D. Call, tough-guy actor and Utah native, dies at 70

(Photo courtesy of the Call family) R.D. Call, a Utah native and character actor who played cops and killers in dozens of movies and TV series, died Feb. 27, 2020, in Layton, Utah, at the age of 70.

R.D. Call, a Utah native who was a familiar face playing cops and killers in dozens of movies and TV shows, has died.

Call died Feb. 27, in Layton, from complications after back surgery, his family announced. He was 70.

Call’s craggy features made him a natural to play tough guys, though, as his family wrote, he “was tough as nails on the outside but a real gentleman on the inside.”

He was a regular in the movies of director Walter Hill, starting with his first movie role as a police sergeant in the 1982 Eddie Murphy buddy-cop comedy “48 Hrs.” He worked for Hill again in the Richard Pryor comedy “Brewster’s Millions” (1985) and the Bruce Willis gangster drama “Last Man Standing” (1996).

Call appeared several times in movies starring Sean Penn: “At Close Range” (1986), “Colors” (1988), “State of Grace” (1990), “The Weight of Water” (2000), “I Am Sam” (2001) and “Babel” (2006). He also appeared in the Jon Krakauer adaptation “Into the Wild” (2007), which Penn directed.

Call played a chaplain in Oliver Stone’s 1989 drama “Born on the Fourth of July,” and appeared in the notorious 1995 blockbuster “Waterworld.” On TV, he played a government assassin in the 1991 Stephen King-written miniseries “Golden Years,” and a mob fixer in “EZ Streets,” which ran from 1996 to 1997.

Born Roy Dana Call, on Feb. 16, 1950, in Ogden, Call grew up in Layton, the oldest of four children. He graduated from Davis High School in 1968, and attended Utah State University and Weber State University, studying acting. According to his family, he won a state competition for performing a scene from “A Streetcar Named Desire,” playing the boorish Stanley Kowalski.

Call married Nita Nickerson in 1972. The couple moved to Hollywood in 1975, one semester shy of graduating from Weber State. It took four years to get his first screen gig, in a 1979 episode of the detective series “Barnaby Jones.” The Calls later divorced, but remained close.

According to his family, Call battled alcoholism during much of his acting career, though he celebrated 26 years of sobriety this year. He retired from acting in 2017, and moved back to Layton.

Call is survived by his brother, Rick; his sisters, Quay and Cindy; many nieces and nephews; an uncle, Lane, and an aunt, Evelyn.

A celebration of Call’s life is set for Saturday, March 7, at 11 a.m., at Lindquist Layton Mortuary, 1867 N. Fairfield Road, Layton. Interment will be later at Lindquist’s Washington Heights Memorial Park, 4500 Washington Blvd., Ogden.

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