From Hollywood star to Trump conspiracist: How Randy Quaid became the president’s unofficial spokesman

President Donald Trump retweeted several tweets from actor Randy Quaid on Tuesday morning, falsely claiming widespread fraud in 3 November’s election.

This was not the first time that Quaid, 70, the older brother of Hollywood star Dennis Quaid, has made headlines over the past decade for his controversial and unusual personal life instead of his acting.

How did Quaid go from Academy Award-nominated Hollywood actor to a conspiracy theorist retweeted by the 45th US president in the dying days of his time in office?

Hollywood past

The Texas-born actor made his film debut in Peter Bogdanovich’s Oscar-nominated 1971 film, The Last Picture Show, after being discovered by the director while studying at the University of Houston.

Quaid then took on acting full time and first came to prominence starring alongside Jack Nicholson in director Hal Ashby’s 1973 film The Last Detail.

He was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role as an 18-year-old sailor in the film.

The actor continued with a successful career, playing both lead and supporting characters before finding award recognition again in 1987 when he won a Golden Globe for a performance as former president Lyndon B Johnson.

Quaid then had roles in films such as Kingpin, Brokeback Mountain, Days of Thunder and in the 1996 Will Smith blockbuster, Independence Day.

He also appeared in a television adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men in 1981 and a miniseries about Elvis Presley in 2005. He was nominated for an Emmy for his role in the latter.

Quaid featured in more than 90 films between 1971 and 2009, and was nominated for an Oscar, a BAFTA and multiple Golden Globes and Emmys.

Fall from grace

Quaid’s behaviour created negative headlines in 2009, when he was arrested alongside his second wife, Evi Quaid, for allegedly defrauding an innkeeper in Santa Barbara, California.

The couple were accused of paying for a $10,000 (£7,508) bill using an invalid credit card, and caused controversy by repeatedly refusing to turn up for scheduled court appearances.

When they eventually turned up to court, the charges were dropped against Quaid, but his wife was given a three year suspended sentence.

The couple got into more legal trouble a year later, when they were charged with burglary after spending five days inside the guest house of a property they once owned in Santa Barbara.

Quaid and his wife then requested asylum in Canada, claiming that they feared for their lives in the US.

They claimed that they were targets of a shadowy network named the “Hollywood star whackers”, who they said had murdered eight of their friends in recent years.

Quaid and his wife claimed that actors David Carradine and Heath Ledger were killed by the shadowy network. Both actor’s deaths were ruled accidental.

Reuters reported that Ms Quaid told an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing: “We feel our lives are in danger.”

The couple were arrested when they attempted to cross the border, but in 2011 Ms Quaid was granted citizenship due to her parentage, while the actor was denied the same in the following years.

In 2015, Quaid’s wife wore a mask of News Corp founder Rupert Murdoch while they simulated sex in a bizarre two minute video shared by the actor. The video was one of many strange clips shared by the Quaid over the last decade.

After he was threatened to be deported from Canada in 2015, Quaid and his wife crossed the border to Vermont, where they were arrested on fugitive charges relating to the previous burglary charge in California.

A judge later dismissed the case, and the couple have since made Vermont their permanent home.

Connection to Trump

Through his Twitter and YouTube accounts, Quaid has been public in his support for Mr Trump over the last four years, and has regularly shared bizarre close up videos to his followers stating his views on a myriad of topics.

During the Republican National Convention in September, Quaid shared a video of himself drinking champagne while watching Mr Trump’s address.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump retweeted five tweets from Quaid, where the actor falsely claimed that there was widespread fraud in 3 November’s election.

Although President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election earlier this month, President Trump has claimed without evidence that widespread voter fraud took place in several swing states.

President Trump and his campaign have filed lawsuits in multiple swing states that were called for Mr Biden, pressing state and local authorities not to certify the election results.

Quaid captioned one video retweeted by Mr Trump: “TIME TO MAKE OAN & NEWSMAX RICH. FOX IS DEAD TO ME!”

Once cited as Mr Trump’s favourite network, the president has recently distanced himself from the conservative brand, and has claimed that they gave too much airtime to former Democratic President Barack Obama during the election campaign.

In another tweet, Quaid wrote: “Never underestimate The greatest President this country has ever had. Trump is an astonishing man of the people, fighting for all of us, not Big Pharma! #AmericaFirst #KAG #TrumpPence2020 #StopTheSteaI2020.”

Mr Trump quote tweeted it, and replied: “Thank you Randy, working hard to clean up the stench of the 2020 Election Hoax!”

In another interaction, Quaid tweeted: “I just don’t see Americans rolling over for this election fraud. Do you?” and Mr Trump replied: “No!”

President Trump seemed to soften his stance on the election on Monday evening, as he accepted that a formal transition for Mr Biden to take office should begin. He still did not concede.

After the General Services Administration (GSA) acknowledged Mr Biden as the “apparent winner” of the presidential election, Mr Trump said that the agency must “do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols”.

However, on Tuesday, Mr Trump tweeted: “Remember, the GSA has been terrific, and Emily Murphy has done a great job, but the GSA does not determine who the next President of the United States will be.”

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