Charles Dierkop, Actor in ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,’ ‘The Sting’ and ‘Police Woman,’ Dies at 87

Charles Dierkop, the busy character actor who played tough guys in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting and the 1970s Angie Dickinson series Police Woman, has died. He was 87. 

Dierkop died Sunday at Sherman Oaks Hospital after a recent heart attack and bout with pneumonia, his daughter, Lynn, told The Hollywood Reporter.

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The Wisconsin native also appeared alongside Rod Steiger in Sidney Lumet’s The Pawnbroker (1964), played the mobster Salvanti in Roger Corman’s The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967) and was a murderous Santa Claus in the cult horror movie Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984).

After portraying an uncredited pool-hall hood in the Paul Newman-starring The Hustler (1961), Dierkop got to work with Newman again in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) when he was hired to play Hole in the Wall Gang outlaw George “Flat Nose” Curry.

Dierkop had broken his nose in fights several times as a kid, so he was rather suited for the part.

“My agent was on a plane reading a script and it says, ‘Flat Nose Curry’ … I think I have someone in mind,” he said in a 2018 interview with Rob Word. “So I got an interview with [director] George Roy Hill and got cast, quite simply.”

He would reteam with Newman and Hill once more in the Oscar best picture winner The Sting (1973), this time playing Floyd, the bodyguard who serves as protection for Robert Shaw’s crime boss Doyle Lonnegan.

The 5-foot-9 Dierkop appeared in two episodes of the Joseph Wambaugh-created NBC drama Police Story, the second as Det. Pete Royster on March 1974’s “The Gamble,” which served as the de facto pilot for Police Woman.

Dierkop then starred as Royster for four seasons (1974-78) of NBC’s Police Woman, with his character teaming with Sgt. Suzanne “Pepper” Anderson (Dickinson) and Det. Joe Styles (Ed Bernard) inside an undercover LAPD unit captained by Lt. Bill Crowley (Earl Holliman).

POLICE WOMAN, Angie Dickinson, Ed Bernard, Earl Holliman, Charles Dierkop
From left: Angie Dickinson, Ed Bernard, Earl Holliman and Charles Dierkop on a 1974 episode of ‘Police Woman’

Charles Richard Dierkop was born on Sept. 11, 1936, in La Crosse, Wisconsin. When he was an infant, his father left the family and his mom moved away, and he was raised by his aunt and uncle. He frequently got into fights and “got my nose busted four times,” he said, the first time while in Holy Trinity grade school.

While he was a junior at Aquinas High School, Dierkop dropped out to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps and served during the Korean War until September 1955. Later, he studied acting in Philadelphia and then with Lee Strasberg at The Actors Studio in New York.

In 1960, Dierkop showed up on Naked City for the first of his eight uncredited appearances on the gritty ABC drama, and two years later he was on Broadway in General Seeger, directed by and starring George C. Scott, though the play closed after two performances.

He played a bank robber on the 1966 Andy Griffith Show episode “Otis, the Deputy,” an Argelian named Morla on the 1967 Star Trek installment “Wolf in the Fold” and a henchman named Dustbag on the 1968 Batman episode “Penguin’s Clean Sweep.”

Frequently portraying heavies, he also appeared three times on Gunsmoke and on such other shows as Lost in Space, Adam-12, Mannix, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Lancer, Bonanza, Mission: Impossible, Kojak, Fantasy Island, Simon & Simon, MacGyver and ER.

His big-screen résumé also included The Sweet Ride (1968), Robert Downey Sr.’s Pound (1970), Angels Hard as They Come (1971), Night of the Cobra Woman (1972), The Hot Box (1972), Messiah of Evil (1973), Messenger of Death (1988) and The Midnighters (2016).

And if you watch closely, you’ll see him sitting at the bar in the 1992 music video for R.E.M.’s “Man on the Moon.”

Dierkop was married to Joan Addis, whom he met at the American Foundation of Dramatic Arts, from 1958 until their 1974 divorce. They had two children, Charles Jr., who died in 1990 at age 29, and Lynn.

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