Home » Herbert “Cowboy” Coward, the Toothless Mountain Man in ‘Deliverance,’ Dies at 85

Herbert “Cowboy” Coward, the Toothless Mountain Man in ‘Deliverance,’ Dies at 85

by UNN Feed

Herbert “Cowboy” Coward, who as the sadistic toothless man in John Boorman’s Deliverance terrorized canoeists and audiences alike with the chilling line, “He got a real pretty mouth, ain’t he?,” has been killed in a car accident. He was 85.

Coward died Wednesday when the Nissan he was driving was struck by a pickup truck driven by a 16-year-old in Haywood County, North Carolina, North Carolina State Highway Patrol officials told WLOS-TV.

Coward; his girlfriend, Bertha Brooks; and two pets, a chihuahua and a squirrel, died at the scene, they said. The other driver was taken to a hospital. No charges have been filed.

In the early 1960s, Burt Reynolds was making $100 a week falling off rooftops as a stuntman at the Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, when he first met Coward, who was there playing an outlaw character named Pa Clanton.

Years later, he thought Coward would be great as a villain in Deliverance (1972). “He couldn’t read or write and he stuttered, but he was a wonderful actor,” Reynolds said in a cast reunion video in 2017.

In the Warner Bros. film, nominated for the best picture Oscar, Coward and another hillbilly portrayed by Bill McKinney happen upon two vacationers (Jon Voight and, in his feature debut, Ned Beatty) in the woods. They’ve become separated from their friends, played by Reynolds and Ronny Cox.

The two locals bind Voight’s Ed Gentry to a tree before McKinney’s character sodomizes Beatty’s Bobby Trippe. For the controversial scene, Coward said he came up with the iconic line “squeal like a pig,” which McKinney says during the sexual assault.

“Bill was asking me what we should do with him and I said, ‘Make him squeal like a pig. Make him squeal like Pa’s old pig.’ I said it a few times, but it didn’t make it in the movie,” he recalled in 2017. The ad-libbed line, however, would be uttered by McKinney’s…

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