Actor Woody Harrelson, 56, shares his birthday with his father. He grew up in Texas and credits the majority of his morality to his mum, Diane.
“I do feel she was a great influence on me and instilled a lot of good values about the way you treat people, behaving honourably (which I don’t always do). But she was a great role model for that and still is,” he told The Guardian recently.
As for his father, Charles Voyde Harrelson, who died in 2007 aged 68, Woody learnt from him to keep an open mind. Charles left Diane when Woody was seven years old but “he was gone long before that”.
Even so, the pair – father and son – were friends by the time Charles died and it doesn’t scare Woody how similar they were as people.
“They have a thing in Japan where they say if you’re born on your father’s birthday, you’re not like your father, you are your father,” he told The Guardian in a 2012 interview. “And it’s so weird when I would sit and talk with him, it was just mind-blowing to see all the things he did just like me. Idiosyncratic things. The way he laughed. The face, very similar.”
Why might he be scared of being like his father?
Because Charles Voyde Harrelson was a contract killer.
In 1968, Woody’s father was paid $2000 for the murder of Sam Degalia Jr, a grain dealer and father-of-four in McAllen Texas. In 1973, after an initial mistrial, Charles was sentenced to 15 years prison, though he was released after five years for good behaviour.
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Then, on May 29 1979, the year after he was paroled, Charles shot dead U.S. District Judge John H. Wood Jr in the parking lot outside the judge’s townhouse in San Antonio Texas. Again, Charles had been paid for the killing, this time by a drug dealer who was scheduled to appear in front of the Justice who was notorious for handing down heavy drug sentences.