Tony Sokol

Sep 18, 2017

Harry Dean Stanton has died at the age of 91, it was confirmed over the weekend.

Actor Harry Dean Stanton died of natural causes in Los Angeles on Friday September 15th, his agent John Kelly announced. He was 91.

Stanton, who made his breakthrough in Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas, submerged himself in over 250 movies since he began acting in the 1950s. That didn’t make him any less unforgettable, putting his subtle stamp on such films as Cool Hand Luke (1967), Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), Godfather II (1974), Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) and John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (1981). Plus he taught Emilio Estevez how to boost cars in the cult classic Repo Man.

Stanton hit the mainstream in John Hughes’ Pretty In Pink (1986), he played Molly Ringwald’s unemployed father.

He played against Jack Nicholson, a lifelong friend, in The Missouri Breaks and Bob Rafelson’s Man Trouble.  He also appeared in The Mighty, and the film adaptations of Stephen King’s Christine and The Green Mile.

Stanton was born in Irvine, Kentucky. His father, Sheridan Harry Stanton, was a tobacco farmer and barber, His mother, Ersel, was a hairdresser, but by all reports he grew up in a musical family. Stanton, who fought in the Battle of Okinawa in World War II while serving as a cook in the Navy, played guitar and sang country songs in nightclubs early in his career. He mixed acting with music, appearing in the music video for Dwight Yoakam’s “Sorry You Asked”, Ry Cooder’s for the song “Get Rhythm,” and Bob Dylan’s “Dreamin’ of You.”

Stanton majored in journalism and radio arts, and performed at the Guignol Theatre at the University of Kentucky.  He studied at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California. He made his TV debut in a 1954 episode of the anthology series The Inner Sanctum, ultimately appearing across the television spectrum is such series as The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, The Untouchables, Bonanza, The Wild Wild West, The Andy Griffith Show, Mannix, and Adam 12.

He made his uncredited film debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 docudrama The Wrong Man, which starred Henry Fonda and Vera Miles. Other early films included Pork Chop Hill, In the Heat of the Night, How the West Was Won, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and What’s the Matter With Helen?

Stanton’s last film project, Lucky, is set to be released in America later this month.

Rest in peace, sir.