Character actor found a career fan in Tarantino
Michael Parks, a prolific character actor who found early fame in 1960s countercultural roles and later became a favorite of directors including Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith, died May 9 in Los Angeles. He was 77.
His agent, Jane Schulman, confirmed the death but did not provide the cause.
In a career that spanned six decades, Mr. Parks acted in more than 100 movies 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.
Mr. Parks also starred as a disillusioned, motorcycle-riding newsman in the 1969 series “Then Came Bronson.” For the series, Mr. Parks, who recorded a number of albums throughout his career, sang the popular closing theme song, “Long Lonesome Highway.”
He played the criminal Jean Renault on David Lynch’s early-1990s TV series “Twin Peaks.”
Mr. 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 Mr. 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 Mr. Parks from filmmaker to filmmaker. He played Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in Rodriguez’s “From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996), a role he reprised in “Kill Bill” and “Grindhouse.” His actor son, James Parks, often joined him, playing McGraw’s son Edgar.
Smith gave Mr. 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. In a tweet after Mr. Park’s death, Smith called him “my cinematic muse.”
Harry Samuel Parks was born in Corona, Calif., on April 24, 1940.
Michael Parks poses for a photo at the “Tusk” premiere Sept. 16, 2014, in Los Angeles.