Listen Children To A Story

Why was I not informed that Billy Jack died ?

I was killing time watching Turner Movie Classics and they were killing time before the next featured film started by running a maudlin montage of Hollywood people who died in 2013. I already got over my sadness about losing Annete Funicello and Peter O’Toole and really James Gandolfini and Roger Ebert did nothing for me in life so I noted their passing but did not mourn them. The parade of cinematographers and makeup men kept rolling on and I was just about to get up out of my chair when an image of Tom Laughlin in that hat came on the screen.


Even though they mock me and act like extremely disinterested in whatever it is I’m trying to tell them about, my children usually adopt – in one way or another – whatever historic pop cultural thing I think they need to know about.  I’ve heard them singing every word of Donovan’s Atlantis and at least one of them dropped into a casual conversation  Claudine Longet’s penalty for gunning down Spider Sabitch. Although I have many successes of this nature, I could never get them to understand or appreciate Billy Jack.

I tried. I summarized the movie plot, showed them the famous ice cream parlor scene, talked about how the film came out at the perfect time to meet at the crossroads of  the burgeoning awareness around PTSD Vietman Vets, inequity for Native Americans, martial arts and above all changing the world through Peace Love & Understanding. But it never resonated with them and I stopped trying.

I just informed my son via instant messenger that Tom Laughlin died on his birthday and I referenced Billy Jack. His response was “Who?”

I have failed as a mother.

Anyway, he apparently walked the walk of what he believed in his whole life. Here’s an utterly fascinating two-part interview done by a local CA TV station. In part 1, Tom talks about the 4th in the Billy Jack movie series Billy Jack Goes To Washington. Previously unreleased due to what he claims was pressure from Congress, the theme is the corruption of the US system of government. In Part 2 while discussing battered women, he mentions his neighbor O J Simpson and how he frequently sheltered O J’s son after periodic beatings from his father. He calls OJ a monster.
Tom Laughlin “Billy Jack” Interview Part 2

Tom Laughlin “Billy Jack” Interview Part 2

RIP Tom Laughlin. Colleagues and family members described him as driven, stubborn, uncompromising and intensely attracted to quixotic endeavors…  “The separation between the character of Billy Jack and my father was tissue thin,” [his daughter] said, “at its thickest part.”