Saturday , 3 December 2016

Obituary: Jerry Biggs, McKinney Native and Actor, Passes Away

jerry BiggsJerry Dale Biggs, born in McKinney, Texas, May 28, 1950, was the son of Hazel and William W. Biggs and the youngest of six boys and two girls. Jerry passed away of an apparent heart attack at his home in Klondike, Texas, March 30, 2014. Judy Allen Biggs, his loving wife for fifteen years, was with him at the time. Jerry died while doing one of the things he loved very much, playing with his dogs. He will certainly be missed by all his family, friends, fellow actors, writers and movie personnel, six dogs and eighteen cats, especially by his best friend and companion, Abigail the dog. Abigail was very jealous and every time Jerry got on the phone she would start barking because she didn’t have his undivided attention.

Jerry became interested in acting while studying drama atMcKinney High School and graduated in the Class of 1968. Working numerous summer jobs, including with the Texas Highway Department, he paid his own way through college and majored in theater and speech at East Texas State University, where he became somewhat of an icon in the Theatre Department. After graduating, he went on to perform in 15 major motion pictures and over 50 television shows. Having worked with world-renown directors, actors and writers, Jerry also spent much of his time speaking

Jerry Biggs as Roy Suggs in Lonesome Dove

at public schools and universities about acting as a craft and profession. Jerry is probably most known for his role as Roy Suggs in the blockbuster television miniseries Lonesome Dove. His most recent film roles were with Matthew McConaughey, Jack Black and Shirley McClain in Bernie; Mariah Carey in Tennessee and Anna-Sophia Robb inWest Texas Lullaby. Jerry toured extensively over the years with his critically acclaimed one-man show, Mark Twain. Movies and television shows he performed in include: Silverado, Alamo Bay, Tender Mercies, Walker Texas Ranger, Lonesome Dove, Bed of Lies, Heaven and Hell, North and South Book III, and numerous episodes of Dallas.

Funeral arrangements are pending and will be announced later.

TSB interviewed Mr. Biggs just last year in Stuart J’s Lens.

A personal note from the author, RD Foster:

I got to know Jerry Biggs in the early 1960s in a cantaloupe patch east ofMcKinney. Both of us were from large, hard-working, blue-collar families. During the summer we took any job we could find to make some spending money and most of them included hard work and manual labor. Picking cantaloupes was just one of them, with the hours long and the days very hot. It was in the cantaloupe field where we tagged him with the nickname “Hollywood”, because of his serious performances in high school plays. Graduating from doing farm labor, Jerry took a job with the highway department working on a road crew, which, with long, hard hours on very hot Texas days, was not a job for the weak or faint of heart. Unlike most of us, he didn’t blow the money he made on cars and girls, but saved it to pay for college.

I graduated from McKinney High School two years ahead of Jerry and went off to the Marines. I didn’t see him again until 1982. I had become a song-writing guitar player and was performing with my band at a club in Arlington, Texas, while next door in another club a movie was being filmed. My friend and bass player, the late Donnie McCutchen, and I were outside in the parking lot during a break and Donnie said, “That looks like Jerry Biggs.” And it was. He was standing outside the movie set and told us he was acting as stand-in for Robert Duvall. The movie was released the following year and Jerry had done so well, that Duvall actually gave him a line in the move. In one scene in Tender Mercies you can see him sitting at the counter in a café and his line was, “Pass the sugar.” There would be many more lines to follow that one.

Other than seeing him in the movies and on TV, I didn’t see Jerry that much over the next few years. He would show up sometimes at one of our gigs. Donnie was a great yodeler and credits that to Jerry, who taught him how to yodel back in high school.

In 2004, Jerry called me and said he was working with TexasA&M University at Commerce interviewing veterans for their oral military history, and he would like to include my Vietnam story. I was very honored.

In the summer of 2013, we hooked up again, this time to perform on the same stage. He was doing his one-man Mark Twain show and I became his opening musical act. He not only performed “Twain” in some very prestigious venues, but also in numerous retirement centers and veterans homes around Texas. While doing some of these shows we talked about old the old days growing up in McKinney and about some of the offbeat, colorful characters we had come to know during that time. At one point he said, “You know what? I think we could write a really good play about that.” We had just gotten started, and spent a lot of time on the phone, which was difficult with Abigail barking in the background. Jerry was writing the dialog and I was writing the songs, but we hadn’t gotten very far when God called him home. I guess he had other plans for my friend. I miss Jerry already and will forever feel an emptiness, and I will always wonder what our play could have become. God bless you, my friend. Until we meet again.

Submitted by RD Foster

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