Sam Bottoms grew up in a family of actors. All three of his brothers have tried their hand at the craft, with brother Timothy ("Johnny Got His Gun", "The Last Picture Show") the most well known. Sam's career, however, was distinguished by Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War epic "Apocalypse Now", in which he played the California surfer turned riverboat gunner, Lance B. Johnson. The role of a So-Cal surfer was not far from Bottoms' real-life background; he had grown up as a surfer in Santa Barbara. Bottoms portrayed Johnson as a wide-eyed, eager-to-please greenhorn whose innocence seems to serve as his protection in the hostile jungle. Bottoms got his first acting job when he followed his brother down to the set of "The Last Picture Show". He was spotted hanging around, and wound up in the picture as Billy, the speech-impaired street sweeper. Bottoms also appeared in a couple of Clint Eastwood Westerns, "The Outlaw Josey Wales" and "Bronco Billy". He never really got to work on another film at the level of "Apocalypse Now", but he did have a solid career that, in later years, centered on television. He played Cal Trask in the TV miniseries version of "East of Eden" and guest-starred on episodes of "21 Jump Street", "Murder, She Wrote", and "NYPD Blue", among others. He died of a brain tumor at the age of 53.