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Harry Dean Stanton, the legendary actor, has died at age 91. His death followed a hospitalization in Los Angeles earlier this week, according to Radar Online. His cause of death has yet to be determined.
Stanton was one of the most respected character actors in Hollywood, with numerous great films on his resume. In 2002, critic Roger Ebert wrote: “Stanton has long inhabited the darker corners of American noir, with his lean face and hungry eyes, and he creates a sad poetry.”
Most recently, Stanton appeared in the third season of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return.
Here’s what you need to know about his life and death:
1. He Died at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles
An insider told Radar Online that Stanton was “ailing at home after numerous health complications and a recent stay at Sherman Oaks Hospital.”
The insider added that “Harry’s done it all, seen it all and been around all the greats for decades. Now he’s resting at home and really only seeing his closest friends. But he knows this is the end to a wonderful life. He is in very bad health, but he’s still hanging in there.”
According to TMZ, Stanton died on Friday afternoon while at the Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. An official cause of death has yet to be determined.
When asked about death in a 2013 interview with The New Yorker, he said, “When you’re deep asleep and not dreaming, where the f**k are you? There’s total blackness, it’s nothing, right? 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.”
2. He Acted in Over 250 Films & Television Shows
Stanton was a prolific actor during his seven decades in Hollywood. He began his career as an extra in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until he played Tramp in the prison drama Cool Hand Luke (1967) that he became a sought-after name.
From there, he appeared in numerous classics, including The Godfather Part II (1974), Alien (1979), Escape from New York (1981), Christine (1983), Repo Man (1984), Pretty in Pink (1986), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The Green Mile (1999), and The Avengers (2012).
Stanton was also a frequent collaborator of director David Lynch, who cast him in Wild at Heart (1990), The Straight Story (1999), Inland Empire (2006), and the aforementioned Twin Peaks revival. After Stanton’s death, Lynch released an official statement on Twitter. Read it above.
Stanton’s most famous role came in the 1984 drama Paris, Texas. He considered it his greatest performance, and given scenes like the one above, its easy to see why.
3. He Was the Inspiration for the 2013 Documentary ‘Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction’
Stanton’s mysterious lifestyle and celebrated career was the focus of the 2013 documentary Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction.
Speaking on how she managed to encompass Stanton’s life into a comprehensive feature, director Sophie Huber spoke with Collider their collaborative process:
It’s like if you tell a story from the beginning, from when you were born to now, like many documentaries are told. If you want to be true to your subject, then you have to find ways to tell his story the way he is. It was important. Also, since he doesn’t express that much verbally, I needed to find things that would make the atmosphere stronger.
I wanted to create an atmosphere that’s the same as I feel when I’m around him, which is like what you said, relaxing and calming. Also, Harry talks a lot about being present in the moment, and therefore, it would not make sense to tell a normal biography about the past and everything. So, I tried hopefully to achieve that so that one feels in the present.
When asked what he learned from his years in the business, Stanton told Collider: “That it’s not important. Nothing is important. Red Buttons told me that. I asked him once, I said, “Red, are you afraid of dying?” and he said, “Harry, I’m a comedian. I’ve died thousands of times.” I loved him. I said, “Nothing is important.”
4. He Was a Lifelong Bachelor Who Dated Several Celebrities
Stanton never married, though, in an interview with NNBD, he said that he had “one or two children.” Throughout the years, he was romantically involved with several female celebrities. He notably dated actress Rebecca De Mornay between 1982 and 1983, though in an interview with The Guardian, Stanton discussed the pain he experienced after they broke up: “She left with Tom Cruise. I was heartbroken.” Stanton later admitted that De Mornay was the love of his life.
Stanton also had relationships with his Paris, Texas co-star Natassja Kinski and Blondie singer Debbie Harry. During a press conference in 2013, The Guardian writes that an audience member asked Stanton what Harry was like “in the sack” to which he replied: “As good as you think!”
When asked if he regrets never marrying, Stanton told Blouinartinfo:
Regret is another form of suffering, which I’m not into. It’s pointless. If I did regret, I’d have a lot of regrets, but ultimately you have to accept what you do and what happens. We’re all hardwired genetically from when we’re born. We react in a certain way and we have nothing to do with it. Ultimately, we’re not in charge of our lives.
5. Since 2011, Kentucky Has Hosted a Film Festival in His Honor
Since February of 2011, the city of Lexington, Kentucky (Stanton’s hometown) has hosted a festival in his honor. According to their official website, the festival was started with the goal of celebrating Stanton’s diverse filmography, as well as his roots within the Kentucky community. The “Harry Dean Stanton Fest” reportedly uses various venues and theaters in the Lexington area.
Stanton, as well as friends and collaborators like Kris Kristofferson have appeared at the festival over the years. The 2017 festival is scheduled for September 28-30th, where they will screen several of Stanton’s most beloved films, including his last starring role, Lucky (watch the trailer above).
Director John Carroll Lynch and writer Drago Sumonja will be in attendance at the official premiere, which will be before New York and Los Angeles. It is unclear how Stanton’s death will impact the festival, but all updates and announcements will be made on the Harry Dean Stanton Fest Facebook page.