American Tail villain John Finnegan dead at 85

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John Finnegan

John Finnegan

Char­ac­ter actor John “J.P.” Finnegan, the voice of main vil­lain War­ren T. Rat — feline leader of the Mott Street Maulers — in Don Bluth’s 1986 film An Amer­i­can Tail, died Sun­day at his Palm Desert, Cal­i­for­nia home from pneu­mo­nia and com­pli­ca­tions of old age, his wife Car­olynn said. He was 85.

Finnegan offered a wide range of sup­port­ing parts from 1972 to 2003 in the Columbo detec­tive series and TV-movies.

A friend of director-actor John Cas­savetes, he appeared in five of his movies — includ­ing A Woman Under the Influ­ence (1974) and Big Trou­ble (1986), which also starred Columbo star Peter Falk.

Born on August 18, 1926, he was one of 11 chil­dren of Irish immi­grants. He served in the United States Navy dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

He became friends with Cas­savetes and Falk at the Actors Stu­dio in his native New York City. They helped Finnegan in the early 1950s, when he moved to Los Angeles.

As old scout Sam Simp­son in the open­ing scenes of the 1984 movie The Nat­ural, star­ring Robert Red­ford, Finnegan “car­ries the feel­ing of an ear­lier Amer­ica,” the New Yorker said.

Also among his almost 70 TV and film appear­ances was a role as a judge in the 1991 Oliver Stone film JFK.

John Finnegan had four chil­dren with his first wife. After her death in 1989, he met Car­olynn Jacobs. They mar­ried in 1992.

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