RIP Harry Dean Stanton! A Great Actor! A Class Act! An American Original…

RIP Harry Dean Stanton…

One of Hollywood’s most interesting, unique and singular talents passed away at the age of 91. Harry Dean Stanton is known for many great movies, but he is also known as one of the nicest, most honest and unique characters in Hollywood history.

Here are highlights of his career thanks to IMDB:

“Prolific character actor Harry Dean Stanton’s drooping, weather-beaten appearance and superb acting talent have been his ticket to appearing in over 100 films, and 50 TV episodes.

Stanton was born in West Irvine, Kentucky, to Ersel (Moberly), a cook, and Sheridan Harry Stanton, a barber and tobacco farmer. Stanton served as a cook in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and was on board an LST during the Battle of Okinawa. He then returned to the University of Kentucky to appear in a production of “Pygmalion”, before heading out to California and honing his craft at the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse. Stanton then toured around the United States with a male choir, worked in children’s theater, and then headed back to California. His first role on screen was in the tepid movie Tomahawk Trail (1957), but he was quickly noticed and appeared regularly in minor roles as cowboys and soldiers through the late 1950s and early 1960s. His star continued to rise and he received better roles in which he could showcase his laid-back style, such as in Cool Hand Luke (1967), Kelly’s Heroes (1970), Dillinger (1973), The Godfather: Part II (1974), and in Alien (1979). ”

His “everyman” character in “Alien” helped to make the creature even more terrifying – he was just a guy working on a space ship, and that grounded persona permeated much of his work.

With over a hundred movies to his credit, I can’t mention most of them, but he also made a great impression in Dustin Hoffman’s gritty 1978 film “Straight Time.”

This is a classic 70’s crime drama – you can read more about it here:

Soon after, Stanton came to the attention of director Wim Wenders, and starred in the moving Paris, Texas (1984).

I mentioned that Stanton was a true class act in Hollywood. Here’s an anecdote from that film.

As my friend Dean Lent posted on Facebook today:

“Back in the 80’s I was a PA on Paris Texas. This man was infinitely kind to me and Allison and Scott who were working free for the experience. I cannot say enough about his kindness. He didn’t need to be. He just was. Trying not to be sad. Lets celebrate his life.”

As IMDB notes:

“Apart from his film performances, Stanton is also an accomplished musician, and “The Harry Dean Stanton Band” and their unique spin on mariachi music have been playing together for well over a decade. They have toured internationally to rave reviews. Stanton became a cult figure of cinema and music and when Debbie Harry sang the lyric “I wa’nt to dance with Harry Dean…” in her 1990s hit “I Want That Man”, she was talking about him.

Here you can see Stanton singing “Cancion Mixteca” in this excerpt from the Talk Show interview, accompanied by host Harper Simon. As the clip notes:

“The performance of the song used in Paris, Texas is a heart wrenching and beautiful testament to the brilliant actor…”

There are so many great stories about the Actor.

As my friend Alison Martino shared on Facebook:

“Oh Harry, such epic times with you over the last 20 years. Way too many to count. From playing drums for you at Caffe Roma, to late night evenings at Dan Tana’s to pulling all nighters on the phone. I’ll never forget when you patched Marlon Brando on the line one night to teach him a lesson in Western philosophy and you allowed me to listen in.”

Alison has shared some amazing anecdotes about Harry, and continues to lead the way in preserving Hollywood’s great history. See more at her website:

Finally, David Polan at Movie City News posted this great quote from a story about an interview with the Actor – it begins with Harry telling a story:

“I’m 87 years old… I only eat so I can smoke and stay alive… The only fear I have is how long consciousness is gonna hang on after my body goes. I just hope there’s nothing. Like there was before I was born. I’m not really into religion, they’re all macrocosms of the ego. When man began to think he was a separate person with a separate soul, it created a violent situation.

“The void, the concept of nothingness, is terrifying to most people on the planet. And I get anxiety attacks myself. I know the fear of that void. You have to learn to die before you die. You give up, surrender to the void, to nothingness.

“Anybody else you’ve interviewed bring these things up? Hang on, I gotta take this call… Hey, brother. That’s great, man. Yeah, I’m being interviewed… We’re talking about nothing. I’ve got him well-steeped in nothing right now. He’s stopped asking questions.”
~ Harry Dean Stanton

Thanks to Poland for sharing this – you should always be checking out his terrific website here:

RIP to a legend, who lived a great life and will be missed…

Categories: 70's Cinema, 70's Music, Action Films, Art, Awards, Books / Media, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Film Noir, Great Films, Hollywood, Horror films, Independent Cinema, Los Angeles, Memoirs, Movies, Obscure Movies, Obscure Music, Talent/Celebrities, Uncategorized

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14 replies

  1. Great tribute John. A few years back I saw Paris, Texas and Repo Man as a young man. That’s pretty much it, all you need is either one of those and you’re a fan for life. Paris, Texas has to be one of the best film ever made (why the fuck haven’t they given an Honourary Oscar to Wim Wenders!). I just watch Harry in Twin Peaks recently and was so happy to see him. He remained a talent right to the end. The ultimate Star Character Actor and quite the interesting man in real life.

  2. This was a fine tribute to a fantastic actor. I was always happy to see him on the screen.


  1. RIP Harry Dean Stanton! A Great Actor! A Class Act! An American Original… – johnrieber | Rogues & Vagabonds

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