James Karen, the instantly recognizable character actor who moved the cemetery's headstones — but not the bodies — as the developer Mr. Teague in the modern horror classic Poltergeist, has died. He was 94.
The incredibly prolific Karen, who also was noteworthy in such films as The China Syndrome (1979) and The Return of the Living Dead (1985) and on the finale of NBC's Little House on the Prairie — he's the dastardly reason the town of Walnut Grove was blown up — died Tuesday at his Los Angeles home, his wife, Alba, said.
Karen, who usually portrayed authority figures, good and bad, during his seven-decade career, also appeared in three films for director Oliver Stone: as Lynch, the office manager at Jackson Steinem, where Charlie Sheen's stockbroker character works, in Wall Street (1987); as Secretary of State William Rogers in Nixon (1995); and as a Miami Sharks executive in Any Given Sunday (1999).
He was really good in Return of the Living Dead, as a custodian of a medical supply warehouse, trying to cope when the cadavers start coming back to life. He acts much as you or I would, I'd think, under the circumstances!
He also appeared as the district attorney in “A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion” in 1993. He was clearly a favorite of the Lorimar casting department, appearing in multiple episodes of “Eight is Enough” and “Dallas”.
Thanks. I was wondering if Mr. Karen has been a part of the Waltons. I loved reading that Pathmark, the store chain he did commercials for, received hundreds of letters after he appeared as the bad guy in the finale of “Little House in the Prairie,” asking if the administration couldn’t do something to stop him. That is hilarious!