The Only Major Actors Still Alive From Vanishing Point

"Vanishing Point" isn't exactly a mainstream classic, but for a portion of moviegoers who like to see cars go fast and people do drugs, it's pretty much unmissable. Based on that description alone, it makes sense that the cult film's audience grew when it was directly referenced in Quentin Tarantino's 2007 road slasher film "Death Proof." Other directors who are major fans of the film include Edgar Wright and Steven Spielberg, who once told Entertainment Weekly it was one of his favorite movies.

The 1971 film didn't feature many stars, but did include a handful of actors who would become famous for other projects in the years following the film. Cleavon Little, who played radio DJ Super Soul in the film, went on to star in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles" three years later, while actress Charlotte Rampling, who was Oscar nominated for her work in "45 Years" in 2016, apparently appeared as hitchhiker in a scene in the film that didn't appear in the U.S. release. Several actors from the movie have passed away in the years since its release, including star Barry Newman, who played police-evading driver and ex-cop Kowalski in the film. The two actors from the cast list who are still with us, Lee Weaver and John Amos, have had long and interesting careers in the years since "Vanishing Point."

Lee Weaver played Jake in Vanishing Point

Actor Lee Weaver appeared in "Vanishing Point" as Jake, the drug dealer who Kowalski bets that he can get a car delivered to San Francisco in less than two days. Weaver has a relatively minor part in the film, but he went on to take memorable roles in movies including "Donnie Darko," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," and "O Brother Where Art Thou?" -– he plays the enigmatic blind prophet in the latter film.

Weaver's steadiest work has been in television, though, where he's taken on lots of recurring and guest roles. In both popular '80s cop drama "Hill Street Blues" and its acclaimed follow up "NYPD Blue," Weaver appears as a guy nicknamed "Buck Naked," a nudist who frequently has run-ins with the police officers at each show's respective precinct. Weirdly, Buck Naked is pretty much the only connecting character between the two shows, as despite the fact that both were co-created by Steven Bochco, they don't actually share a fictional universe. Weaver also voiced the character Alpine in the animated "G.I. Joe" series and its spin-off movies.

The actor additionally has appeared in guest roles in plenty of great shows, from "Sanford and Son" and "Good Times" to "Six Feet Under" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," to "Veronica Mars" and "Community." Weaver most recently appeared in the third and sixth season of Netflix's "Grace and Frankie," playing a character named Mel Cordray.

John Amos played Super Soul's Engineer in Vanishing Point

Emmy-nominated actor John Amos made one of his earliest-ever on-screen appearances in "Vanishing Point," playing the engineer to blind DJ Super Soul, who cheers Kowalski on as he attempts to outrun a police pursuit. Six years after this film's release, Amos had a career high with "Roots," the groundbreaking historical miniseries in which he played the older version of enslaved protagonist Kunta Kinte. The actor landed a number of major roles in a row in the '70s, playing weatherman Gordy Howard on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" before starring on family sitcom "Good Times."

Amos also appeared in supporting roles in the aughts shows "The West Wing" and "Men in Trees," and had notable guest spots in series including "Murder, She Wrote," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," and "Maude." Most recently, he popped up in the HBO comedy "The Righteous Gemstones." On the film front, Amos' greatest hits include the Eddie Murphy comedy "Coming To America," action flick "Die Hard 2," A24 darling "Uncut Gems," fantasy movie "The Beastmaster," and classic blaxpoitation film "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song." One of Amos' most recent film roles was in the 2022 buddy comedy "Me Time," starring Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg.

In his decades-long career, Amos has won an NAACP Image Award (for his role in the show "In the House"), released a country album called "We Were Hippies," and appeared in over 100 titles. Unfortunately, he made headlines for a sad reason in 2023 when outlets including KOAA News in Colorado reported that he was in the hospital as a potential victim of elder abuse. A further report from People indicated that Amos' daughter had claimed that his son, her brother, wasn't providing proper care for him. The investigation closed, and Amos told People that he was "doing well" and will share more about the situation in an upcoming documentary.