‘Kill Bill’ and ‘Twin Peaks’ ac­tor Michael Parks dies at 77

Cape Breton Post - - In Memoriam -

Michael Parks, a pro­lific char­ac­ter ac­tor who found early fame in 1960s coun­ter­cul­tural roles and later be­came a favourite of di­rec­tors in­clud­ing Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith, has died. He was 77.

He died on Tues­day in Los An­ge­les, his agent, Jane Schul­man, said on Wed­nes­day. No cause of death was an­nounced.

In a career that spanned six decades, Parks acted in more than 100 films and TV shows. Many of his early star­ring roles were in anti-es­tab­lish­ment ‘60sera films such as “Wild Seed,’’ ‘’The Hap­pen­ing,” with An­thony Quinn, and ‘’Bus Ri­ley’s Back in Town,” along­side Ann-Mar­gret.

Parks also starred as a dis­il­lu­sioned, mo­tor­cy­cle-rid­ing news­man in the 1969 se­ries “Then Came Bron­son.’’ For the se­ries, Parks, who recorded a num­ber of al­bums through­out his career, sang the pop­u­lar clos­ing theme song, “Long Lone­some High­way.’’

He played the Cana­dian drug run­ner Jean Re­nault on David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks.’’

Parks found per­haps his most fa­mous parts in the 1990s thanks to the in­ter­est of Tarantino, Smith and Robert Ro­driguez, the of­ten con­nected in­de­pen­dent film­mak­ers. Each turned to Parks again and again for meaty sup­port­ing roles. Tarantino cast him in mul­ti­ple roles in both parts of “Kill Bill’’ and his “Death Proof’’ half of 2007’s “Grind­house.’’

Some­times, the char­ac­ters fol­lowed Parks from film­maker to film­maker. He played Texas Ranger Earl Mc­Graw in Ro­driguez’s “From Dusk Till Dawn,’’ a role he reprised in “Kill Bill’’ and “Grind­house.’’ His ac­tor son, James Parks, of­ten joined him, play­ing Mc­Graw’s son Edgar.

Smith gave Parks the largest roles of the trio, in­clud­ing his 2014 film “Tusk,’’ which paired him with Johnny Depp, and 2011’s “Red State,’’ as a preacher. Smith on Wed­nes­day called him “my cin­e­matic muse.’’

“Michael was, and will likely for­ever re­main, the best ac­tor I’ve ever known,’’ Smith wrote on Instagram. “I wrote both ‘Red State’ and ‘Tusk’ for Parks, I loved his act­ing so much. He was hands-down the most in­cred­i­ble th­es­pian I ever had the plea­sure to watch per­form. And Parks brought out the ab­so­lute best in me ev­ery time he got near my set.’’

Parks was briefly mar­ried while 16 years old to Louise John­son, with whom he had a daugh­ter. He is sur­vived by his wife, Ori­ana Parks, whom he mar­ried in 1997, and his son.


Michael Parks ar­rives at the L.A. Pre­miere Of “Tusk” in Los An­ge­les in 2014.

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