Actor Herbert Lee “Cowboy” Coward, known for his role in Deliverance, passed away at the age of 85 in a tragic car crash.

Who was Herbert Coward?

Herbert Coward (x/@ktoumarl)

Herbert Lee “Cowboy” Coward, a renowned actor born on August 21, 1938, in North Carolina, United States, gained recognition for his memorable role as the Toothless Man in the 1972 thriller Deliverance. After a diverse career that included labor jobs and portraying an outlaw gunfighter at a ghost town amusement park, Coward’s friendship with Burt Reynolds opened the doors to his acting career.

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Cause of Death and Age:

Coward’s life ended in a collision on January 24, at the age of 85, as he was turning onto a highway and was struck by an oncoming truck driven by a 16-year-old. Unfortunately, Coward, his girlfriend Bertha Brooks, and their pets did not survive the crash. Authorities reported that Coward and Brooks were not wearing seatbelts, and no charges have been filed against the teenager, who was not believed to be speeding.

Deliverance and Career:

Coward’s pivotal role in Deliverance was recommended by Reynolds, who fondly remembered him as a unique talent. The actor’s contribution to the film, marked by his ad-libbing skills, became a standout moment. Following Deliverance, Coward worked at a factory in North Carolina for nearly three decades, and his only other film credit was in 2007’s Ghost Town: The Movie. On television, he appeared in the 2013 series Hillbilly Blood and an episode of Discovery Channel’s Moonshiners.


Before his acting career, Coward, who was married to Dorothy until her passing in September 2011, supported his family through various labor jobs. The couple, wed in the ’60s, had four children together.

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Herbert “Cowboy” Coward leaves behind a legacy that extends beyond his notable role in Deliverance. His unexpected death has sparked reflection on his impact in the entertainment industry and his unique contributions to the art of acting.