A burly, mustachioed character actor frequently cast as law enforcement agents or villainous heavies, John Ashton began his acting career on the L. A. stage in the early 1970s after graduating from USC. The New Englander entered films as a police sergeant in "Psychopath" (1973) and went on to be cast as law enforcement agents in such efforts as "Breaking Away" (1979, as Dennis Quaid's older brother), "Borderline" (1980) and the cult favorite "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension" (1984). But it was his role as L.A. Police Sergeant John Taggart, opposite Eddie Murphy, in the action comedy "Beverly Hills Cop" (1984) and its 1987 sequel that made Ashton a recognizable face. He began landing better roles, like the bounty hunter chasing Charles Grodin and Robert De Niro in "Midnight Run" (1988) and as Eric Stoltz's college-obsessed father in "Some Kind of Wonderful" (1987). Among his more recent roles were the pitching coach in the children's baseball sleeper "Little Big League" and as part of the ensemble of fine actors peopling "the friendliest town in the world" in the uneven seasonal comedy "Trapped in Paradise" (both 1994).