Strickland 1985
James Tolkan
Biographical information
Date of birthJune 20, 1931
Age (1931)Born
Age (1955)24
Age (1985)54
Age (2015)84
Physical description
Behind-the-scenes information

James Tolkan (born June 20, 1931 in Calumet, Michigan) is an American character actor. He is best known for his role in the 1985 film Back to the Future as Hill Valley High School vice-principal Mr. Strickland. He reprised the role in the 1989 sequel Back to the Future Part II and, in 1990, he played the part of Mr. Strickland's grandfather in Back to the Future Part III.


Often cast as a strict, overbearing, bald-headed authority figure, Tolkan currently lives in Lake Placid, New York.

Other well-known films include WarGames (1983, John Badham), playing a fanatic FBI agent; and the box office hit Top Gun (1986, Tony Scott), where he uttered the famous line "Your ego is writing checks your body can't cash". He also appeared in the film Masters of the Universe (1987, Gary Goddard), as a hard-nosed police detective who eventually fights Skeletor's forces.

Tolkan was the star of the short-lived ABC television show The Hat Squad (1992-93). He has also made guest appearances on many TV shows, including Naked City, Remington Steele, Miami Vice and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. A member of the repertory cast of A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001-2002), he also directed two episodes ("Die Like a Dog" and "The Next Witness") of the A&E TV series.

Selected filmography[]

Marshall Strickland

Tolkan as Marshall Strickland

  • Heavens Fall (2005)
  • Seven Times Lucky (2004)
  • A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001-2002)
  • Underworld (1996)
  • Robo Warriors (1996)
  • Nowhere Man' (1995)
  • Cobra (1993-1994)
  • Boiling Point (1993)
  • Bloodfist IV: Die Trying (1992)
  • Problem Child 2 (1991)
  • Hangfire (1991)
  • Back to the Future Part III (1990)
  • Family Business (1989)
  • Back to the Future Part II (1989)
  • Masters of the Universe (1987)
  • Top Gun (1986)
  • Armed and Dangerous (1986)
  • Back to the Future (1985)
  • The River (1984)
  • WarGames (1983)
  • Nightmares (1983) (voice)
  • Hanky Panky (1982)
  • Author! Author! (1982)
  • Prince of the City (1981)
  • Wolfen (1981)
  • The Amityville Horror (1979)
  • Love and Death (1975)
  • Serpico (1973)

External links[]