Sam Bottoms (Samuel John Bottoms)

Sam Bottoms

Samuel John “Sam” Bottoms (October 17, 1955 – December 16, 2008) was an American actor and producer. Bottoms was born in Santa Barbara, California, the third son of James “Bud” Bottoms (a sculptor and art teacher) and Betty (Chapman), both of whom survive him. He was the brother of actors Timothy Bottoms (born 1951), Joseph Bottoms (born 1954) and Ben Bottoms (born 1960). He died of glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain tumor, on December 16, 2008. When Bottoms was 16 years old, he was on the set of The Last Picture Show, in which his older brother Timothy starred, when the director Peter Bogdanovich decided to give him a screen test. He ended up playing the character of Billy in the movie, who has no spoken lines, but contributes a pivotal role in the drama. Five years later, Bottoms appeared with Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josey Wales. Bottoms may be best remembered for his role as surfer Lance Johnson, a Navy Gunner’s Mate stationed on a river boat in Francis Ford Coppola’s 20th century opus, Apocalypse Now. According to author Peter Biskind, he acquired hookworm during the chaotic production in the Philippines, and the parasite “wrecked his liver”.


  • October, 17, 1955
  • USA
  • Santa Barbara, California


  • December, 16, 2008
  • USA
  • Los Angeles, California

Cause of Death

  • glioblastoma multiforme

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