“Deliverance Star Herbert Coward, 85, Meets Tragic End in Fatal Car Crash with Girlfriend and Pets”

Burt Reynolds played a crucial role in securing Herbert “Cowboy” Coward the iconic supporting role in the 1972 film ‘Deliverance.’ Tragically, Cowboy, renowned for his portrayal of the Toothless Man, met his untimely demise in a car crash in Haywood County, North Carolina, along with his girlfriend Bertha Brooks. The 85-year-old, accompanied by Brooks, 78, lost their lives when an oncoming truck, driven by a 16-year-old, collided with their vehicle. Sadly, Cowboy’s pet Chihuahua dog and pet squirrel also perished in the accident.

Reports indicate that Cowboy and Brooks were not wearing seatbelts, and no charges were filed against the teen driver, who was not believed to be speeding. Cowboy, who had previously lost his wife Dorothy in 2011 after 51 years of marriage, left behind a notable legacy, particularly for his memorable role in ‘Deliverance.’

In 2018, Reynolds revealed on Conan O’Brien’s show that he recommended Cowboy for the part when director John Boorman struggled to find authentic “Mountain Men” for the film. Despite Cowboy’s lack of literacy skills, Reynolds believed they had something special. Cowboy’s audition, featuring an ad-libbed take on a line, secured him the role instantly.

During filming, Reynolds encouraged Cowboy to speak freely, assuring him that his words would be valued. Cowboy’s spontaneous ad-libbing proved invaluable, with every uttered word retained in the final cut of the film. ‘Deliverance,’ directed by John Boorman and featuring stars like Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox, received three Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, in 1973.

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