Clu Gulager, the veteran American actor best known for his roles in the TV series The Virginian and the films The Return of the Living Dead, The Last Picture Show and The Killers, has died at the age of 93.

The self-proclaimed "cowboy from Oklahoma" passed away at the home of his director son John Gulager and actress daughter-in-law Diane Ayala Goldner in Los Angeles on Friday, says The Hollywood Reporter.

Born William Martin Gulager in Holdenville, Oklahoma in 1928, Gulager received his unusual 'Clu' nickname from his father. It was a reference to the martin bird - known as 'clu-clu' in Cherokee.

After military service, Gulager studied acting in college. A career that spanned over sixty years and 160 screen credits followed.

Apart from his starring roles as Billy the Kid in The Tall Man and Emmet Ryker in The Virginian, Gulager's many other television credits included Kung Fu, Knight Rider, Magnum PI, The Fall Guy, Murder, She Wrote and Beavis and Butthead.

His first movie role was opposite Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes and future US President Ronald Reagan in the 1964 film noir favourite The Killers. The first made-for-TV movie, it found its way to cinemas instead due to its violence.

Gulager's other film credits included Winning, McQ, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka and the Feast horror trilogy - directed by his son John. More recently, he appeared in the critically acclaimed Tangerine and Blue Jay. His final role was in longtime fan Quentin Tarantino's 2019 box office hit Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Paying tribute, his family said: "Clu was as caring as he was loyal and devoted to his craft, a proud member of the Cherokee nation, a rule-breaker, sharp and astute and on the side - always - of the oppressed. He was good-humoured, an avid reader, tender and kind. Loud and dangerous."