Oscar nominated actor Dean Stockwell dies at 85
Stockwell was best known for his role in films like "Blue Velvet", "Married to the Mob", and shows like "Quantum Leap"
(ABC News) —NEW YORK — Dean Stockwell, a top Hollywood child actor who gained new success in middle age in the sci-fi series “Quantum Leap” and in a string of indelible performances in film, including David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet,” Wim Wenders’ “Paris, Texas” and Jonathan Demme’s “Married to the Mob,” has died. He was 85.
Jay Schwartz, a family spokesperson, said Stockwell died of natural causes at home Sunday.
Stockwell was Oscar-nominated for his comic mafia kingpin in “Married to the Mob” and was four times an Emmy-nominee for “Quantum Leap.” But in a career that spanned seven decades, Stockwell was a supreme character actor whose performances — lip-syncing Roy Orbison in a nightmarish party scene in “Blue Velvet,” a desperate agent in Robert Altman’s “The Player,” Howard Hughes in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” — didn’t have to be lengthy to be mesmerizing.
Stockwell’s own relationship with acting, having started on Broadway at age 7, was complicated. In a peripatetic career, he quit show business several times, including at age 16 and again in the 1980s, when he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to sell real estate.
“Dean spent a lifetime yo-yoing back and forth between fame and anonymity,” his family said in a statement. “Because of that, when he had a job, he was grateful. He never took the business for granted. He was a rebel, wildly talented and always a breath of fresh air.”
The dark-haired Stockwell was a Hollywood veteran by the time he reached his teens. In his 20s, he starred on Broadway as a young killer in the play “Compulsion” and in prestigious films such as “Sons and Lovers.” He was awarded best actor at the Cannes Film Festival twice, in 1959 for the big-screen version of “Compulsion” and in 1962 for Sidney Lumet’s adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” While his career had some lean times, he reached his full stride in the 1980s.
“My way of working is still the same as it was in the beginning — totally intuitive and instinctive,” he told The New York Times in 1987. “But as you live your life, you compile so many millions of experiences and bits of information that you become a richer vessel as a person. You draw on more experience.”
His Oscar-nominated role as Tony “The Tiger” Russo, a flamboyant gangster, in the 1988 hit “Married to the Mob” led to his most notable TV role the following year, in NBC’s science fiction series “Quantum Leap.” Both roles had strong comic elements.