Star’s hag­gard face was his for­tune

Harry Dean Stan­ton Actor BORN JULY 14, 1926 - DIED SEPTEM­BER 15, 2017, AGED 91

Daily Express - - LIVES REMEMBERED -

IN A 60-year ca­reer Harry Dean Stan­ton be­came known as one of the finest char­ac­ter ac­tors of his gen­er­a­tion even though his big break came only in his 50s.

His hag­gard face and hang­dog ex­pres­sion, cou­pled with a unique vul­ner­a­bil­ity, had made him a favourite of di­rec­tors in sup­port­ing roles but it was play­ing world-weary engi­neer Brett in 1979’s Alien that re­ally kick-started his ca­reer.

Five years later he took the lead role in cult hit Repo Man op­po­site Emilio Estevez and in the same year, in Paris, Texas, gave what crit­ics called his finest per­for­mance as a haunted am­ne­siac trying to track down miss­ing fam­ily.

Stan­ton was born in Irvine, Ken­tucky, to fa­ther Sheri­dan, a to­bacco farmer and bar­ber, and mother Ersel. After grad­u­at­ing in 1944 he en­listed in the US navy and saw action in the Bat­tle of Ok­i­nawa.

But it was while on a jour­nal­ism course at the Univer­sity of Ken­tucky that Stan­ton be­gan to con­sider a ca­reer in act­ing and after drop­ping out of col­lege he moved to Cal­i­for­nia to study at the Pasadena Play­house.

His film de­but was in 1957 in the west­ern Tom­a­hawk Trail and reg­u­lar work fol­lowed in TV shows in­clud­ing Bo­nanza and Rawhide. On the big screen his dis­tinc­tive fea­tures landed him vil­lain­ous roles in­clud­ing as an out­law in Ride In The Whirlwind, writ­ten by and star­ring Jack Ni­chol­son.

The two be­came firm friends, Stan­ton was best man at Ni­chol­son’s wed­ding in 1962 and they would briefly share a house in LA after a di­vorce six years later.

He stood out in 1967’s Cool Hand Luke op­po­site Paul New­man, im­pressed along­side Clint East­wood, Telly Savalas and Donald Suther­land in the 1970 war ca­per Kelly’s He­roes and three years later struck up a friend­ship with Bob Dy­lan in Sam Peck­in­pah’s Pat Gar­rett And Billy The Kid.

After crit­i­cally lauded roles play­ing an FBI agent in The God­fa­ther Part II and an ex-con in Straight Time, op­po­site Dustin Hoff­man, there came Alien and a later ca­reer star­ring in films as di­verse as David Lynch’s Wild At Heart, teen drama Pretty In Pink, com­edy Pri­vate Ben­jamin and even as St Paul in Martin Scors­ese’s The Last Temp­ta­tion Of Christ.

He con­tin­ued to work into his 90s, ap­pear­ing in the lat­est se­ries of Twin Peaks this year.

His final film Lucky was re­leased yes­ter­day in the US. Stan­ton never mar­ried though once claimed to have “one or two chil­dren”.

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