A prolific and versatile character performer who excelled at playing the heavy, actor J. T. Walsh was once dubbed "everybody's favorite scumbag" by <i>Playboy</i> magazine and enjoyed a fruitful career until his life was cut short in 1998. Walsh came up in the theater world and had successful turns in several of David Mamet's plays before making the jump to the screen with antagonist roles in "Tin Men" (1987) and "Good Morning, Vietnam" (1987). He played con men in "House of Games" (1987) and "The Grifters" (1990), and stepped up to blockbusters with Ron Howard's "Backdraft" (1991). After delivering a fine turn in "A Few Good Men" (1992), he had one of his best performances as a salesman who makes a pact with the devil in "Needful Things" (1993). Walsh followed up by playing an attorney prosecuting Santa Claus in "Miracle on 34th Street" (1994) and Watergate co-conspirator John Erlichman in Oliver Stone's "Nixon" (1995). Poised for greater recognition, Walsh triumphed as an evil trucker in the taut thriller, "Breakdown" (1997), but was unable to enjoy the fruits of his success when he died of a heart attack early the next year. His last films, "The Negotiator" (1998) and "Pleasantville" (1998), were dedicated to his memory, all of which left friends and fans wondering what could have been.