Will Sampson

Will Sampson

53 (passed away Jun. 3rd, 1987)
Sep. 27th, 1933
Born in
Okmulgee, Oklahoma, USA
6' 5"

Will Sampson's Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
Vega$ TV Show
Tall Tales and Legends TV Show
Tall Tales and Legends
The Yellow Rose TV Show
The Yellow Rose

Main Movie Roles

Guest TV Roles

[none found]


A Native American actor of the Creek Nation, Sampson's "big break" came from his memorable role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) opposite Jack Nicholson. He was also starred opposite Clint Eastwood in the western The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). He had supporting roles in Orca (1977), The White Buffalo (1977) and Fish Hawk (1979). In 1986, he co-starred in Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) as a Native American shaman. He died of complications from kidney failure and malnutrition during heart and lung replacement surgery in 1987 and was buried on the reservation where he grew up.

  • He is said to be the third victim of the legendary "Poltergeist Curse". Sampson starred in _Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)_ (qv), and during filming he allegedly claimed that the production was haunted. He supposedly used Native American rituals to bless sets and locations to stave off the curse. Regardless, the legend holds that he became another victim of the curse, dying of complications during heart and lung surgery a year after the film's release. Other supposed victims of the curse include 'Dominique Dunne' (qv), who was murdered shortly after the release of _Poltergeist (1982)_ (qv), 'Julian Beck' (qv) who died of stomach cancer during filming of Poltergeist II, and 'Heather O'Rourke' (qv), who died of complications from Crohn's Disease before _Poltergeist III (1988)_ (qv) was released.
  • Father of 'Tim Sampson (I)' (qv).
  • Was a member of the Creek Nation.
  • In 1977, appeared in two movies that set man against beast, both very reminiscent of _Jaws (1975)_ (qv): _Orca (1977)_ (qv) and _The White Buffalo (1977)_ (qv).
  • According to an episode of _"The Yellow Rose" (1983)_ (qv), he was 6' 7".
  • Founder of the American Indian Registry for the Performing Arts.
  • He is buried on the Creek Indian Reservation. 'Craig T. Nelson' (qv), Poltergeist co-star, happened to be passing through the area and wanted to pay his respects. He drove around for 4 or 5 hours trying to find the cemetery when he finally stopped at a corner store and asked where Will Sampson was buried. As it turned out, the man standing next to Nelson in the store was Sampson's cousin, and told Nelson he'd show him the spot. It was cicada season, and Nelson remembers the buzzing was overwhelming. He approached Sampson's grave and said something to the effect of "Hey Will, its Craig". Within three or four seconds, Nelson recalls, the sound of the cicadas tapered off and stopped entirely.

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