“Beyond Cuckoo’s Nest - The Art and Life of William Sampson, Jr.” Will Sampson was most recognized for his unforgettable role as Chief Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. He entertained and moved audiences in 11 films, including Outlaw Josey Wales, White Buffalo, Poltergeist 2, and Firewalker; 14 TV shows, including Vegas, Alcatraz, and Mystic Warrior to name a few and 2 stage plays, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Black Elk Speaks. Will changed forever how Native Americans are hired and viewed in Hollywood. He holds a special place in American history. But his most important role was one the role he played his entire life -- that of Creek Indian cowboy and artist. A full-blood Muscogee Creek Indian from Okmulgee, Oklahoma, Will Sampson’s work in the fine arts, has yet to receive the recognition it richly deserves. From the time he could hold a pencil in his hand, Sampson drew. His works have been exhibited at the Library of Congress, the Amon Carter Museum, the Gilcrease Museum, the Philbrook Art Center, the Creek Council House, and the Chieftains Art Gallery in Okmulgee. He was honored as “Outstanding Indian of the Year” at the 47th Annual American Indian Exposition held in Anadarko, Oklahoma, in 1979 and he was among the outstanding Indian artists who exhibited in the Smithsonian Institute in the America Discovers Indian Art Exhibit in 1967. Will was a Western cowboy Indian artist, painting in the style of Charles Russell, but with his own sense of what it was to be a Native American, taking as his subjects his ancestors, the land, the hard days and opportunities seen by a Creek Indian in the 20th century America.
About the Author
Zoe Escobar 1977, I went to work for Will “Sonny” Sampson, Jr. as his personal assistant and secretary, and traveled with him by plane and pickup truck; to movie locations as well as American Indian events all over the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe. During our travels, I met many people who over the years had purchased his paintings, drawings and sketches. They were amazing, representations of the worlds he’d walked in, as well as those walked in by his ancestors In 1982, I was Executive Director of The American Indian Registry for the Performing Arts. With Will Sampson as Chairman of the Board, we built a non-profit organization and compiled a book of Native American actors and technicians from all over the continent. Creation of the book from my personal journal, newspaper articles and photos was in 2005.