Though he never quite reached the lead actor status he worked so relentlessly to achieve, Warren Oates (1928-1982) is known today as one of the most memorable and skilled character actors of the 1960s and 1970s. With his rugged looks and measured demeanor, Oates crafted complex characters that were at once brazen and thoughtful, wild and subdued. Warren Oates: A Wild Life is the first book-length look at the actor whom friends remember as a hard-living, hard-drinking man who was kind and caring, but also as mean as a blue-eyed devil. Born in the small town of Depoy in rural western Kentucky, Oates began his career in the late 1950s with bit parts in television westerns. During this time he met infamous director Sam Peckinpah, establishing a creative relationship and destructive friendship that would spawn some of Oates's most celebrated and unforgettable roles in films such as Ride the High Country (1962), The Wild Bunch (1969), and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974). Parts in Major Dundee (1965), In the Heat of the Night (1967) Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), Badlands (1973), and Stripes (1981) show Oates's penchant for working with seminal filmmakers -- directors as diverse and talented as Monte Hellman, Terrence Malick, Ivan Reitman, and Steven Spielberg. With remarkable range and depth he created colorful characters onscreen even as his life offscreen was full of drama, alcohol and drugs. With an engaging style and through careful research, author Susan Compo skillfully captures the nuances of Oates's life in the first biography of this beloved actor.