Endowed with a toothy grin and resonant baritone, actor James Coburn went from supporting character player to breezily hip leading man, before gaining critical recognition and an Academy Award late in a career that spanned 50 years. After several years of minor roles - often as a thug - on television series and in feature films, Coburn's big break arrived when he joined "The Magnificent Seven" (1960) alongside fellow cowboy mercenaries Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. Even more successful was his third consecutive pairing with McQueen in the WWII adventure "The Great Escape" (1963). He achieved full-fledged movie stardom in the comedy spy spoof "Our Man Flint" (1966), presaging the campy exploits of Austin Powers by 30 years. Although he disliked the role, Coburn relented to the sequel "In Like Flint" (1967), before moving on to more creatively satisfying work and briefly forming his own production company. In what he personally regarded as some of his best work, Coburn collaborated with the volatile director Sam Peckinpah on the films "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" (1973) and "Cross of Iron" (1977). Although both movies would eventually find ardent admirers, sadly neither performed well upon initial release. Twenty years later, just as the sun seemed to be setting on his storied career, Coburn delivered an Oscar-winning performance opposite Nick Nolte in director Paul Schrader's "Affliction" (1998). In a fitting comment on his work and ability, Schrader recalled bracing Coburn for the rigors he was about to face in the role of an abusive alcoholic. After listening to the Schrader's words of encouragement, Coburn replied, "Oh, you mean you want me to really act? I can do that. I haven't often been asked to, but I can."