Movie Star Descends From Clan of Thieves; Tragedy Was No Stranger

Jan-Michael Vincent, who became nationally recognizable on the 1980s television series “Airwolf,” but whose career later foundered, in part because of problems with drugs and alcohol, died on Feb. 10, 2019, at a hospital near his home in Asheville, NC. He was 74. I always had a teenage crush on him and would watch anything he had a role in.  There had always been rumors about Jan’s alcohol and drug abuse, but his life story seems a great tragedy for such a talented man. 

I researched his family line just yesterday having seen a snippet that suggested he was somehow related to our Bowling family.  I quickly discovered that his mother, Doris Jane Pace, of Pocahontas, Randolph County, AZ., descends from our family’s paternal Boling line.  But, his father, Lloyd Whiteley Vincent, originally from Tulare, CA. came from apparently a much more interesting clan.

Jan’s grandfather, Herbert Vincent, was a bank robber and counterfeiter who had masterminded robberies in the 1920s and 1930s.  His father’s brother, Hoy, was shot to death in Tulare by a sheriff’s deputy and was wanted for a robbery that occurred in Oregon. Two of Vincent’s other uncles, Clifford and Harold, were convicted of bank robbery in Hardwick and Strathmore in 1931. In 1932, Herbert and his son, Gordon, were arrested in Hanford in January for bank robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, which left Jan’s father alone at age twelve.

From Jan-Michael Vincent’s mother’s family tree, here’s where our Virginia ancestors (Benjamin Bowling was my paternal 4th great grand uncle. )

16_ Benjamin Bowling 1732-1790/ _____| 8_ Jarret Bowling 1762-1856 / ¯¯¯¯¯|
17_ Winifred Garrison ca 1738- _____| 4_ Henry Bowling 1785-1818 / \ _____|
18_ William Garrison 1746-1824 / ¯¯¯¯¯| 9_ Eleanor Garrison 1768-1830..1831 / ¯¯¯¯¯|
19_ Jane Bowling ca 1748-|2_ Robert H. Bowling 1814-1871| \ _____|
20_ Moses Higginbotham 1715-1791| \ _____| 10_ Robert Higginbotham 1752-1825| \ /
21_ Frances Kyle 1734-1825| ¯¯¯¯¯| 5_ Mary Ann Higginbotham 1792-1822| \| ¯¯¯¯¯| 11_ Nancy Blankenship 1760-1837
Francis Marion Bowling 1829-1920


Actor Jan-Michael Vincent photographed in 1978, the year he starred in John Milius’s surfing epic Big Wednesday. (Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images)

Note in the 1978 picture of him all those Boling features: brilliant blue eyes, the Boling nose and well formed lips. He asked to be remembered more his surfing years rather than his time on TV and in films.

I’d say in this picture that he resembles a combination of today’s  stars Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. I always liked him and thought he was underappreciated for his acting skills, but it could have been his demons that prevented him from achieving more accolades.


14 Facts About The Tragic Life of Jan-Michael Vincent succinctly tells more of Jan-Michael’s life story.


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