Character actress Kathy Lamkin, who had small but memorable roles in films including No Country For Old Men and two Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, has died at the age of 74. An exact cause of death is not known, only that she passed on April 4 after a brief illness. Her family announced her passing in a statement, noting she “will be missed by her family and friends, and left an impact on all she encountered during her life on this Earth.” Deadline was among the first to report on her passing.
Born in Graham, Texas in 1947, Kathy Lamkin grew up in the lone star state and was first inspired to perform by her participation in her school’s choir. She attended Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas, and eventually settled in Houston, according to her IMDB biography. She performed with a traveling theater company and eventually began to start her own company, The Unicorn School of Acting, and its performing wing, USA Theatre. She even taught theatre at Codwell Elementary School in Houston. She moved into film in 1990, initially appearing in movies produced in Texas. Eventually, she caught the eye of casting directors, and more high-profile roles followed.
She appeared in two Texas Chainsaw Massacre films in her career. In Marcus Nispel’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a 2003 reboot starring Jessica Biel, she played the creepy “Tea Lady,” a character that was either a friend of the murderous Hewitt family, if not a member of the family herself, who seemed to be well aware of their bloody activities. Kathy Lamkin’s ability to mix southern charm with a creepy undercurrent made her character a scene-stealer in the film. She also appeared as the Tea Lady in Jonathan Liebesman’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning in 2006, with Jordana Brewster and Matt Bomer.
For non-horror fans, she is likely best remembered as the Desert Aire trailer park manager, who stood up to Javier Bardem’s sinister Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. The Oscar-winning film was directed by the Coen Brothers, who revel in casting memorable character actors in supporting roles. Kathy Lamkin played the only character in the film to stand up to Chigurh and live to talk about it. She earned a Screen Actor’s Guild Award along with the rest of the cast, and the film won the Best Picture Oscar in 2008, with Bardem winning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
Her other film credits include small but memorable roles in Waiting for Guffman, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Astronaut Farmer, In the Valley of Elah, Sunshine Cleaning, and Sweetwater. On television, she appeared on Malcolm in the Middle, Nip/Tuck, Medium, Bones, Boston Legal, and My Name Is Earl. In this scene in 2007’s The Heartbreak Kid, Kathy Lamkin played the mother of Lila (Malin Akerman), giving star Ben Stiller quite a shock. On a side note, Stiller gave Lamkin her first on-screen kiss in this scene, but it ended up on the cutting room floor.
John Squires, editor-in-chief of Bloody Disgusting, noted the passing of Kathy Lamkin in a tweet. He noted that her acting, as well as the other side actors in the film, added “local texture” and depth to the film. The website also paid tribute to her career, which spanned over 40 appearances on TV and in film.
Kathy Lamkin is preceded in death by her parents, her brothers, and her sisters. She is survived by her husband Stephen L. Lamkin, a NASA engineer, her daughter Kati; her son Greg and his wife Jamie; and grandchildren Benjamin and Morgan. Our condolences to Mrs. Lamkin’s family, friends, and fans.