Alex Cord Dies: ‘Airwolf’ Regular & Prolific Character Actor Was 88

Alex Cord, who co-starred with Jan-Michael Vincent and Ernest Borgnine in the 1980s attack-helicopter series Airwolf and had a long career onscreen, died Monday morning at his home in Valley View, TX. He was 88.

His talent agent and friend of 20 years, Linda McAlister, confirmed the news to Deadline.

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Cord had been working in films and TV for more than 20 years before he landed his signature role as the mysterious, eyepatch-sporting Archangel on Airwolf. The CBS drama debuted in 1984 — the year all three broadcast networks bowed helicopter dramas following the theatrical success of Blue Thunder. Airwolf starred Vincent as Stringfellow Hawke, a brooding loner who was tasked with recovering the titular attack copter from its creator, who had stolen the craft with plans to sell Airwolf to Libya.

Cord was his contact at the Firm, an ultrasecret government group that recruited Hawke. Nattily dressed in crisp white suit, cane and that eyepatch, Archangel teamed with an old war buddy, Dominic Santini (Borgnine) on missions for the Firm. The midseason-replacement series never really clicked in its Saturday night slot, failing to make the year-end Top 30 primetime shows in the three-network universe. CBS canceled the show in July 1986, and it went on to air for a season on USA Network with a new cast.

Alex Cord in ‘Stagecoach, 1966 - Credit: Everett Collection.
Alex Cord in ‘Stagecoach, 1966 - Credit: Everett Collection.

Everett Collection.

While that would be Cord’s signature role, he had scores of others — ranging from guest slots on such classic series as Route 66, Night Gallery, Gunsmoke, Mission: Impossible, Police Story and The Six Million Dollar Man to a lead in the short-lived 1978 NBC primetime soap W.E.B. He played Jack Kiley, the no-nonsense programming chief at Transatlantic Broadcasting System, a fictional TV network whose behind-the-scenes drama fueled the series. It lasted for about a half-dozen episodes.

He also was a regular on Cassie & Company, Angie Dickinson’s follow-up series to Police Story. Cord played her ex-husband and DA Mike Holland on the NBC detective drama, which aired 13 episodes in 1982.

He also appeared in films, starring alongside Ann-Margret, Mike Connors, Bing Crosby and others in 1966’s Stagecoach. Other film roles included Synanon, The Last Grenade The Brotherhood, Stiletto and The Dead Are Alive!

Born on May 3, 1933, on Long Island, Cord battled polio as a child and became a prolific horseman. He parlayed those skills into acting gigs in the popular Western genre of the late 1950s and early ’60s.

Cord continued to work onscreen throughout the 1980s and ’90s, guesting on such hit dramas as Murder, She Wrote, Simon & Simon, Jake and the Fatman and Walker, Texas Ranger.

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