ENTERTAINMENT

Acting Legend Harry Dean Stanton Dead At 91

Roger Ebert said no movie with Stanton "can be altogether bad."

09/15/2017 20:13 EDT | Updated 09/18/2017 15:43 EDT

Veteran character actor Harry Dean Stanton died on Friday at the age of 91.

Stanton, whose acting career spanned 60 years, died peacefully at Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, his agent John Kelly said in a statement.

Stanton appeared in dozens of films, including “Repo Man,” “Cool Hand Luke,” and “Paris, Texas,” as well as the recent reboot of television’s “Twin Peaks,” where he appeared as Carl Rodd.

Stanton may be most famous for playing Molly Ringwald’s dad in the 1986 John Hughes classic “Pretty In Pink.”

Born in West Irvine, Kentucky, Stanton served in the Navy during WWII, and then attended the University of Kentucky, studying journalism and radio.

After performing in “Pygmalion” in college, Stanton got the acting bug and moved to California to study at the Pasadena Playhouse, according to Variety.

Stanton’s first broadcast appearance was in 1954 on an episode of the NBC show “Inner Sanctum.”

He was directed by Alfred Hitchcock in an episode of “Suspicion” called “Four O’Clock.”

In his early years, he went by the name Dean Stanton because there was another actor named Harry Stanton.

Stanton made his big screen debut in 1957’s “Tomahawk Trail” and appeared in the 1959 Gregory Peck war film “Pork Chop Hill.” 

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

Jack Nicholson was responsible for helping Stanton make a name as one of the late 20th century’s best character actors.

Stanton was best man at Nicholson’s 1962 wedding. In 1966, Stanton played the leader of an outlaw gang in “Ride The Whirlwind,” a part written especially for him by Nicholson.

Stanton said Nicholson told him to “let the wardrobe do the acting and just play yourself,” according to Variety.

Stanton’s star rose among film fans to the point that Roger Ebert once said famously, “No movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad.”

Ebert later conceded that “Dream A Little Dream Of Me,” a 1989 film starring Corey Haim and Corey Feldman that featured Stanton as a philosophical neighbor was a clear exception.

Stanton played character roles much of his life, but stepped out in the spotlight in 1984, for his first leading role in Wim Wenders’ “Paris, Texas.”

He also made an impression in the cult classic “Repo Man” before being cast in “Pretty In Pink.”

His most recent film, “Lucky,” about an atheist who comes to terms with his own mortality, is set for release on Sept. 29.

When Stanton wasn’t acting, he sang and played guitar in a Tex-Mex band that played around Los Angeles, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Stanton never married but said he had one or two kids.

Stanton’s friends and co-workers expressed their sadness online.

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