Tom Laughlin "Billy Jack" was a Great One
He was a great one.....In 1969 he had finished his film masterpiece for $800,000 and got Warner Brothers to distribute it. They put it in a few test markets, did minimal marketing, pulled in $6 million and decided they were done with it. Warner Brothers put it on a shelf. He was furious. He sued to get back the rights to his film and after 3 years of legal battles got it back in 1973. He rented 1300 theaters across America, using every dime he had and opened his film for the 2nd time. It did $80 million. The film was called “Billy Jack” and a star was born. If you have not seen this film it is an America classic with 2 of the most famous fight scenes in cinematic history. One has been labeled by fans “I just go Beserk!” In the scene, a group of Indian students are beaten up and covered with flour by a group of racists at an ice cream shop. Billy Jack walks in and delivers his soliloquy with what begins as cool restraint but soon becomes a vein-bulging rage: “I really try,” he says. “But when I see this girl of such a beautiful spirit so degraded, and this boy, that I love, sprawled out by this ape here, and this little girl, who is so special to us that we call her God’s little gift to sunshine, and when I think of the number of years she’s going to have to carry in her memory the savagery of this idiotic moment of yours, I - just - go -berserk!” He then beats the bullies to a pulp. He created other films like the motorcycle gang flick “Born Losers,” “The Trial of Billy Jack,” and “Billy Jack goes to Washington.” He ran for President in 1992, 2004 & 2008 seeking the democratic nomination. He was born half-Cherokee and a champion of Indian rights. Tom Laughlin died last month at 82, he was a great one.