Beloved ac­tor Stan­ton dies at age 91

Hol­ly­wood fa­vorite put stamp on many roles

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - OBITUARIES - By Lind­sey Bahr

LOS AN­GE­LES — For more than 60 years, Harry Dean Stan­ton played crooks and codgers, ec­centrics and losers.

He en­dowed them with pathos and com­pas­sion and an­i­mated them with his gaunt, un­for­get­table pres­ence, mak­ing would-be fringe fig­ures feel cen­tral to the films they ap­peared in.

The late critic Roger Ebert once said no movie can be al­to­gether bad if it in­cludes Stan­ton in a sup­port­ing role, and the wide cult of fans that in­cluded direc­tors and his fel­low ac­tors felt the same.

“I think all ac­tors will agree, no one gives a more hon­est, nat­u­ral, truer per­for­mance than Harry Dean Stan­ton,” di­rec­tor David Lynch said in pre­sent­ing Stan­ton with the In­au­gu­ral Harry Dean Stan­ton Award in Los An­ge­les last year.

Stan­ton died Fri­day of nat­u­ral causes at a Los An­ge­les hos­pi­tal at age 91, his agent John S. Kel­ley said.

Lynch, a fre­quent col­lab­o­ra­tor with the ac­tor in projects like “Wild at Heart” and the re­cent re­boot of “Twin Peaks,” said in a state­ment after Stan­ton’s death, “Ev­ery­one loved him. And with good rea­son. He was a great ac­tor (ac­tu­ally be­yond great) — and a great hu­man be­ing.”

When given a rare turn as a lead­ing man, Stan­ton more than made the most of it. In Wim Wen­ders’ 1984 ru­ral drama “Paris, Texas,” Stan­ton’s near-word­less per­for­mance is laced with mo­ments of hu­mor and poignancy. His heart­break­ingly stoic de­liv­ery of a mono­logue of re­pen­tance to his wife, played by Nas­tassja Kin­ski, through a one-way mir­ror has be­come the defin­ing mo­ment in his ca­reer, in a role he said was his fa­vorite.

“‘Paris, Texas’ gave me a chance to play com­pas­sion,” Stan­ton told an in­ter­viewer, “and I’m spell­ing that with a cap­i­tal C.”

The film won the grand prize at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val and pro­vided the ac­tor with his first star billing, at age 58.

“Repo Man,” re­leased that same year, be­came an­other sig­na­ture film: Stan­ton starred as the world-weary boss of an auto re­pos­ses­sion firm who in­structs Emilio Estevez in the tricks of the haz­ardous trade.

He was widely loved around Hol­ly­wood, a drinker and smoker and straight talker with a mil­lion sto­ries who palled around with Jack Ni­chol­son and Kris Kristof­fer­son among oth­ers and was a hero to such younger stars and brothers-in-par­ty­ing as Rob Lowe and Estevez.

He ap­peared in more than 200 movies and TV shows in a ca­reer dat­ing to the mid-1950s.

Harry Dean Stan­ton

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