Name at birth: David Samuel Peckinpah
Director Sam Peckinpah was both hailed and condemned as a pioneer of brutal screen violence in the 1970s. After earning a reputation for writing and directing TV westerns, Sam Peckinpah began directing feature films in 1961. His first two westerns on the big screen were well-received, but Peckinpah did not get along with movie studios and for many years had difficulty finding work. He finally broke through with the 1969 release of The Wild Bunch (starring William Holden and Ernest Borgnine), a tale of aging outlaw antiheroes that shocked and thrilled audiences with its gritty, bloody intensity. He followed that with the brutal Straw Dogs (1971), starring Dustin Hoffman as a reclusive mathemetician who is forced to violence after his wife is raped. Peckinpah's reputation as a self-destructive maverick nearly overshadowed his body of work, which includes The Getaway (1973, starring Steve McQueen), Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973, with Bob Dylan) and Cross of Iron (1977).
Peckinpah had a small acting role in the original screen version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.