It was sad waking up this morning to learn that actor Harry Dean Stanton had died from natural causes at the age of 91. Stanton was something of an understated screen legend. I suppose some would argue with the term 'legend' but to many film fans, Harry Dean Stanton was every bit a screen legend. He was such a solid, charismatic actor, a reliable presence who always brought something special to a movie, more often in a supporting role. Stanton was given his first starring role at the age of 58 in Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders, a film which was awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
He was also widely respected as a musician, His group Harry Dean Stanton and the Repo Men, later simply known as the Harry Dean Stanton Band, often played clubs in and around Los Angeles. Back in the late 60s, he shared a house in Hollywood with Jack Nicholson, and they partied hard with David Crosby, Mama Cass Elliot and the burgeoning Laurel Canyon rock aristocracy of the time.
Stanton, known for his roles in films like Two-lane blacktop, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, Rancho Deluxe, The Godfather II, Straight Time, Escape from New York, Alien and Cool Hand Luke was born in Kentucky and had a career which spanned more than six decades, and dozens of films. He seemed to have a knack of choosing films which ultimately emerged as cult classics.
Of course there was also a strong Eastwood connection starting as far back as Rawhide, the TV western for which Stanton made four appearances.
Arguably, a lot of ‘casual’ film fans may not even be aware that Stanton also appeared in a rather infamous version of A Fistful of Dollars, (above) appearing in a specially filmed prologue for when the film was first aired on American TV. However, most Eastwood fans will remember Stanton as Private Willard (left), one of Kelly's 'heroes' in the classic film of the same name.
More recently, he appeared in the hit HBO show Big Love, and this year's revival of yet another cult classic Twin Peaks.
Thank you for so many great memories
RIP Sir, our thoughts go out to all those who knew him best -