Boyce Holleman, 79; Mississippi Lawmaker and TV, Film Actor

From a Times Staff Writer

Boyce Holleman, attorney, Mississippi state legislator and actor in such television shows as "In the Heat of the Night," has died. He was 79.

Holleman died Friday in Houston of bladder cancer.

He began his political career as a student -- winning election to his state Legislature during his first year of law school at the University of Mississippi. From 1953 to 1972, he served as district attorney of the state's Harrison, Hancock, Jackson, Stone and George counties, and practiced law in Gulfport, Miss.

Holleman's acting roles did not stray far from his real life, as he often portrayed lawyers, politicians or judges. He performed a one-man show, "Clarence Darrow," in small theaters. Actor Henry Fonda made the same play popular at large venues.

On television, Holleman appeared in "In the Heat of the Night" and "I'll Fly Away" and was Grandfather Ponder in the 2001 PBS movie "The Ponder Heart."

Holleman's other recent credits include the motion pictures "Stone Cold" with William Forsythe and "A Simple Twist of Fate" with Steve Martin, and the television movies "The Secret Passion of Robert Clayton" and "Sister Island."

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