John Beasley, who starred in the WB series “Everwood,” and co-starred with The Rock in the 2004 movie “Walking Tall,” died Tuesday at 79, his son announced.
No cause of death was given. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, Beasley died in a hospital in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. His son claims he had been undergoing tests on his liver before taking an unexpected turn for the worst.
“Man…you know this is a part of life…but that doesn’t make it any easier,” his son Michael posted on Facebook. “I lost my best friend today. They say you shouldn’t ever meet your heroes because they don’t turn out to be who you thought they were. That is so wrong. My hero was my father. Thank you for everything. I hope I made you proud. Love you more.”
Beasley, a familiar face for movie and TV fans over the past three decades, didn’t begin his professional acting career until he was in his 40s.
“I was raising my family. I have two sons that I’m very proud of and I thought that being a father and watching these kids grow up was more important,” Beasley told WOWT in 2020.
He also appeared in several sports movies including “The Mighty Ducks,” “Little Big League” and most memorably as a Notre Dame assistant football coach in 1993’s “Rudy.”
What the Omaha, Nebraska, native called his “big break” was his role in the 1997 drama “The Apostle” starring Robert Duvall as a preacher who opens a church with help from a retired preacher, played by Beasley.
The film was critically acclaimed and Duvall received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
In the early 2000s, he started the John Beasley Theater & Workshop in Omaha, Nebraska.
He also held a main role on “The Soul Man,” a sitcom created by Cedric The Entertainer.
In recent years, he appeared in “The Purge: Anarchy” and was on the first episode of “The Mandalorian.”
Beasley, who performed in regional theater for decades, starred in a Chicago production of “The Notebook” last year before being sidelined with a severe case of COVID.
In 2020, the Empowerment Network’s African-American Leadership Conference honored him as a Legends recipient.
“I don’t consider myself a legend,” he said. “I’m honored that there are those that think of me in that way.”
Beasley is survived by his wife of 58 years, Judy, and two sons, Mike and Tyrone.
His grandson Malik has spent seven seasons in the NBA with the Nuggets, Timberwolves, Jazz and Lakers.