Belton O'Neal Compton, Jr. SUMTER, SC - Belton O'Neal Compton Jr., a well-known film and television actor and director, died Monday, Feb. 18, at the Veterans Administration hospital in Columbia. Born in Sumter on Feb. 5, 1951, O'Neal was a son of the Belton O. Compton Sr. and Dorothy Brunson Compton. Survivors include four brothers, Kell B. Compton (Carol Ann), Lawrence B. Compton (Terri), Joseph R. Compton (Valerie), and Michael F. Compton (Rebecca), and many nieces and nephews. His caregiver for the last 10 years, Ms. Sadia Mullins, is like a part of the family. O'Neal attended Clemson University for one year before serving in the Navy for four years. He then enrolled at Wofford College where he studied biology, but his passion was the theater. He was inspired by Dr. James Gross, director of the Wofford Theatre Workshop at that time. O'Neal had numerous roles at the The Sumter Little Theater, and was heavily involved in political advertising throughout his career. He also was decades ahead of his time with the 1981 Compton Plan, a simple burial or cremation company. He zoned and built the first crematorium in Atlanta, Georgia. After a brief stint as director of the family funeral home, Shelley-Brunson, O'Neal moved back to Charleston. In the mid 1980s, O'Neal and good friends David Boatwright and Timmy Mallard started a production company, Bear Films, which produced and directed numerous award-winning commercials for Ford, Bojangles and others and syndicated O'Neal's beloved character Justin Thyme. O'Neal was in high demand as a character actor for years in Los Angeles and New York. He was an award-winning, writer, producer, photographer and director. His acting career really took off in the early 90s with the movies: Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1993), The Thing Called Love (1993), Made in America (1993), What's Love Got to Do with It (1993), Nell (1994), Road Racers (1994), and Little Big League (1994). Following these movies, he had great parts in Nixon (1995), Diabolique (1996), Deep Impact (1998), Primary Colors (1998), Life (1999), and Big Eden (2000). He acted with the top actors of his time, including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman, Ted Danson, Whoopi Goldberg, Daryl Hanna, Sharon Stone, and Tia Leoni. He had roles on episodes of a number of TV shows including Martin, Quantum Leap, Home Improvement, and Coach, to name a few, along with two appearances on Seinfeld. O'Neal also landed a regular part on the short-lived TV series Orleans with Larry Hagman. O'Neal's photography has been featured in exhibitions at the Michael Hoppen Gallery (London), Castle Haggenberg (Vienna) and in private galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, New Orleans and South Carolina. His photographs hang in the collections of many celebrities including Morgan Freeman, Johnny Depp, Billy Bob Thornton, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone, Elizabeth Taylor, John Travolta, Clint Eastwood, Emma Thompson, and Oliver Stone. O'Neal was commissioned by Jerry Seinfeld to create a series of his "slow speed" natural light portraits of the cast and crew in the last year of that show. A gathering in celebration of O'Neal's life is set for 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Sumter County Museum located at 122 North Washington Street, in Sumter. Dress: Casual Memorials may be made to a charity of one's choice
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Published by Charleston Post & Courier from Feb. 20 to Feb. 21, 2019.