Actor Harry Dean Stanton Dies After 6-Decade Career

He was 91
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2017 6:36 PM CDT
In this Sept. 9, 2006 file photo, actor Harry Dean Stanton performs at the 35th anniversary celebration of the founding of Greenpeace, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
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(Newser) – Harry Dean Stanton died Friday at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles at the age of 91, TMZ reports. The longtime character actor was memorable in roles in Pretty in Pink, Alien, Escape from New York, Godfather II, The Green Mile, Big Love, Repo Man, Cool Hand Luke, Twin Peaks, Wild at Heart, and countless others. In fact, the Hollywood Reporter, which calls Stanton the "quintessential American actor," argues he was memorable in pretty much every role he took. Stanton, born in 1926 in Virginia, served in the Navy during WWII and fought in the Battle of Okinawa. He got his first TV role in 1954 and jumped into movies in 1957, Variety reports. His acting career would span six decades. He was also an accomplished musician, performing regularly with The Harry Dean Stanton Band.

The actor known for his "gaunt, bedraggled look" didn't get his big break and first leading role until the age of 52 in 1984's Paris, Texas. “After all these years, I finally got the part I wanted to play,” THR quotes Stanton as saying of that film. “If I never did another film after Paris, Texas, I’d be happy.” Ultimately, Stanton decided it was "too much work" to be a leading man. “He has this pride in appearing to not have to work hard to be good," says Sophie Huber, who directed a 2012 documentary about Stanton. The actor was friends with Bob Dylan, Hunter S. Thompson (at whose funeral he sang), Marlon Brando, and Jack Nicholson (at whose wedding he served as best man and with whom he lived post-divorce). Stanton died of natural causes. He was a "lifelong bachelor" but has said he has "one or two children." His final film, Lucky, will be released Sept. 29. (Read more obituary stories.)

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