Char­ac­ter ac­tor found a ca­reer fan in Tarantino

The Washington Post Sunday - - OBITUARIES - BY JAKE COYLE

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.

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