You may not know his name, but if you’ve watched movies or television in the last 60 years, you’re likely to know his face. Harry Dean Stanton was a man of many talents. Famed critic Rodger Ebert said of him that any movie he was in could not be bad.
Stanton died today at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 91, and, having only briefly been married, he is survived by family and friends. A man who described his beliefs as being in line with Zen Buddism calling it “the most practical,” Stanton hoped for a quiet death.
“When you’re deep asleep and not dreaming, where the fuck are you? There’s total blackness, it’s nothing, right?” He told the New Yorker in 2013 “So I’m hoping that’s what death is, that it’s all gonna go. I don’t want to deal with any consciousness afterward.”
His career began in 1958, and he continued to work steadily until this year, working again with David Lynch on the return to Twin Peaks. He appeared in several well-loved, mainstream features including Cool Hand Luke, The Godfather Part II, Alien, Escape from New York, Red Dawn, Repo Man, Pretty in Pink, Stephen King‘s Christine and The Green Mile. He also had a cameo in The Avengers and was a principle character on HBO’s Big Love.
Lynch released a statement following the announcement of Stanton’s passing,
“The great Harry Dean Stanton has left us, there went a great one. There’s nobody like Harry Dean. Everyone loved him. And with good reason. He was a great actor (actually beyond great) — and a great human being — so great to be around him!!! You are really going to be missed Harry Dean!!! Loads of love to you wherever you are now!!!”
While he often played hard-nosed characters, likely because he had the face of a man who had lived a hard life, Stanton was lauded for his sensitive nature. An accomplished singer, favoring the soulful nature of Tex-Mex blues, this music style that let the tender man inside shine brightly.
Stanton never wanted the work of the leading man, but in his long career, he became a Hollywood legend. A man who hoped to come away from every conversation with new wisdom, his grace and poetry are captured in Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, documenting his more than 250 roles, and the man behind them.
Harry Dean Stanton left his mark on Hollywood, and on the world. He will be remembered fondly by those who knew him, and by those who only hoped to know him. May he rest in the simple darkness he hoped for.
Images: AVCO Embassy Pictures
Source: The Hollywood Reporter