Longtime character actor Stanton, 91
LOS ANGELES — Harry
Dean Stanton, the shambling, craggy-face character actor with the deadpan voice who became a cult favorite through his memorable turns in Paris,
Texas, Repo Man and many other films and TV shows, died Friday at age 91.
Stanton died of natural causes at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his agent, John Kelly, said. Kelly gave no further details on the cause.
Never mistaken for a leading man, Stanton was an unforgettable presence to moviegoers, fellow actors and directors, who recognized that his quirky characterizations could lift even the most ordinary script. Roger Ebert once observed that no movie with Stanton in a supporting role “can be altogether bad.”
He was widely loved around Hollywood, a drinker and smoker, and straight talker with a million stories who was friends with Jack Nicholson and Kris Kristofferson among others and was a hero to such younger stars and brothers-in-partying as Rob Lowe and Emilio Estevez.
“I don’t act like their father, I act like their friend,” he once told New York magazine.
Almost always cast as a crook, a codger, an eccentric or a loser, he appeared in more than 200 movies and TV shows in a career dating to the mid1950s. A cult favorite since the ’70s with roles in Cockfighter, Two-Lane Blacktop and Cisco Pike, his more famous credits ranged from the Oscar-winning epic The Godfather Part
II to the sci-fi classic Alien to the teen flick Pretty in Pink, in which he played Molly Ringwald’s father. He also guest starred on such TV shows as Laverne & Shirley, Adam-12
and Gunsmoke, and appeared in such movies as The Avengers and The Last Stand.
He became famous only late in middle age. In Wim Wenders’ 1984 rural drama
Paris, Texas, he earned acclaim for his subtle and affecting portrayal of a man so deeply haunted by something in his past that he abandons his young son and society to wander silently in the desert.
The film won the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival and provided the actor with his first star billing, at age 58.
Stanton never married, although he had a long relationship with actress Rebecca De Mornay, 35 years his junior. “She left me for Tom Cruise,” Stanton said often.