Two actors who specialized in playing hard-boiled characters using iconic hardware and thus making a mark on gun culture have recently passed this week.
Michael K. Williams
Michael Kenneth Williams, the New York-born actor best known for playing Omar Little in "The Wire," Chalky White in "Boardwalk Empire," and Leonard Pine in "Hap & Leonard," was found dead in his apartment Monday, aged 54. Williams also had several movie roles including the WWII film "Miracle at St. Anna" (2008) and the 2014 reboot of "RoboCop." Specializing in portraying crime figures, he often used a variety of shotguns and flashy handguns on screen, with Omar, who specialized in robbing drug dealers, being particularly impacting on culture. Former President Obama even said that Omar was his favorite character on the show, saying "I mean, that guy is unbelievable, right?"
Roughly the French equivalent of Charlie Bronson or Chuck Norris, action star Jean-Paul Belmondo passed away on Monday at age 88. After a short boxing career and service with the French Army in Algeria during the war there, Belmondo made a series of increasingly over-the-top military, police, and adventure films, often carrying everything from small pocketable Beretta M1934s and snub-nosed S&Ws to more full-sized Colt Troopers and Pythons, likely ensuring continued overseas popularity for those models in Western Europe. In at least two films, "The Outsider" (1983) and "Half a Chance" (1998), he carried the select-fire Beretta 93R, predating that very interesting 9mm machine pistol's use in such American films as Broken Arrow, From Paris with Love, and 3000 Miles to Graceland.
Belmondo spy comedy "Le Magnifique" (1973) served as a forerunner of the "Austin Powers" series, while such films as "Le Marginal" (1983) served up some of the best car chases in 20th-century cinema. Uniquely French tough guy acts such as smacking an assassin around with a croissant, and settling a fight with a colander of pasta cemented his place in that country's iconography, while the two-minute-long duel between Belmondo and actor Robert Hossein in "The Professional" (1981), with a flower delivery man caught in the middle set to a score by Italian composer Ennio Morricone is a masterpiece.