R.I.P. Alex Cord, who played the CIA boss on Eighties action favorite 'Airwolf'

By: H&I Staff     Posted: August 10, 2021, 2:37PM

Eighties action entertainment was all about cool vehicles. Television had awesome rides for land, sea, and air. Michael Knight drove a talking Firebird. The Riptide Detective Agency of Riptide was named after the guys' boat on Pier 56. They had a helicopter, too. But there was no cooler helicopter than Airwolf.

Taking off in 1984, Airwolf starred Jan-Michael Vincent as tough-guy pilot Stringfellow "String" Hawke. He flew the experimental aircraft for "The Firm," a division of the CIA headed up by director Michael Coldsmith-Briggs III, codename "Archangel." All of that sounds cool. Playing Briggs was Alex Cord, a veteran actor with more than two decades of experience on television.

Cord was stricken with polio as a child when his family moved to Wyoming. It was there he learned to ride horses and recover from his illness. Unsurprisingly, considering his background, he made his screen debut in Laramie, an episode titled "The Mountain Men." It was on that Western he met Robert Fuller, star of the series, who could become his lifelong friend. Four decades later, Cord told Fuller he should move to Texas, near his place, and the two both resided in the Lone Star State in recent years.

Other cowboy shows cast Cord, too. Branded brought him alongside Chuck Connors, while his spot on Gunsmoke, in "The Sodbusters," featured him with an unknown up-and-comer named Harrison Ford.

Route 66 particularly appreciated his services, casting Cord four times in four different roles. He was also a frequent guest star on Fantasy Island and Police Story

One major breakout role was in his grasp — if the show had been successful. Gene Roddenberry cast Cord as the star in Genesis II, one of his follow-ups to Star Trek. The sci-fi pilot was not picked up for series, however, and aired as a TV movie in 1972.

His most important guest role, at least to his personal life, came on Night Gallery, the eerie Rod Serling horror series. The tale "Keep in Touch - We'll Think of Something" centered around a man (Cord) who fills out a false police report to track down a beautiful woman, Joanna Pettet.

Cord and Pettet hit it off and the two married. 

The erstwhile Airwolf actor continued to work into the 1990s, with his last notable role coming on Walker, Texas Ranger. After that, it was just a life in Texas. Cord would pass away on August 9 in his home in Valley View, Texas, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 88.