RIP Jan-Michael Vincent…From Superstar To True Hollywood Tragedy…

RIP Jan-Michael Vincent…

A sad and strange end to the life of Jan-Michael Vincent, who at one point was Hollywood’s “Golden Boy” before descending into a troubled life.

As TMZ is reporting:

Jan-Michael Vincent — the ’80s heartthrob best known for his role on TV’s “Airwolf” — has died … TMZ has learned.
Jan-Michael actually died back on February 10 after suffering cardiac arrest while a patient at a North Carolina hospital … according to the death certificate. We’re told no autopsy was performed and he was later cremated.

So, it’s being reported that he died almost a month ago…at the age of 74.

I posted a story about Vincent a few years ago that told of the major problems he had been facing…

Jan-Michael Vincent amputation

This is a real tragic story of Hollywood – and a reminder of the downside of fame…one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars was struggling to survive after a lifetime of problems…

Here are words uttered by Vincent in the iconic surfing film “Big Wednesday.”

“I don’t wanna be a star. Have my picture in magazines, have a bunch of kids looking up to me. I’m a drunk, Bear, a screw up. I just surf cause its good to go out and ride with your friends. I don’t even have that anymore.”

amputee jan-michael vincent

Jan-Michael Vincent’s Hollywood story is a familiar one: a handsome young Actor gets discovered, makes several hit films in a row and becomes the next “Hollywood Golden Boy”…

hollywood sexiest men

Vincent’s breakout hit was alongside Charles Bronson, one of the 70’s biggest action stars…in the 1972 hit film “The Mechanic”.


Vincent exuded raw sexuality and confidence as the young hit man who learns from the grizzled veteran Bronson…

“You always have to be dead sure. Dead sure or dead!”

Jan-Michael Vincent hollywood hunk

“The Mechanic” was a smash hit, and Vincent was in demand, quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s hottest young stars. He cemented his stardom with a slew of other hits, including this muscular action movie:

white line fever

White Line Fever – 1975

It’s a classic “B” action film, with Vincent a returning vet who stands up to corrupt forces in his hometown. He got the chance to fight bad guys while charming the ladies…

amputee jan-michael vincent

“Surf’s Up!”

Finally, Vincent’s stardom was secured with the iconic 1978 surfing movie, “Big Wednesday”.

big wednesday

“I don’t wanna be a star. Have my picture in magazines, have a bunch of kids looking up to me. I’m a drunk, Bear, a screw up. I just surf cause its good to go out and ride with your friends. I don’t even have that anymore.”


The Actor’s words from that movie are sadly prescient.

Jan-Michael Vincent, Gary Busey and William Katt are three young California surfers in the 1960s. After a carefree life of beaches, girls, and waves, the Vietnam war arrives to shatter their idyllic lives.

The title “Big Wednesday,” is the mythical day for surfers when the greatest, cleanest, and most transcendent wave of all will come for them to conquer.

big-wednesday surf movie

By the 80’s, Vincent switched to TV and starred in the hit TV series:


According to a great article on the actor in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, by the mid-80s, Vincent was earning $40,000 an episode as helicopter pilot Stringfellow Hawke in the top rated television series Airwolf.

Yet even while filming the TV show, Vincent had admitted to issues with drugs and alcohol and admits that he still struggles with alcoholism.


According to the newspaper, “when the show ended in 1986, acting roles dried up for Vincent as his demons got the better of him.

He also suffered his fair share of bad luck including two serious car accidents. In the first incident in 1996, Vincent broke three vertebrae in his neck and sustained a permanent injury to his vocal cords that left him with a permanently raspy voice.”


The newspaper pointed to a second crash that occurred in 2008, and then in 2012 he contracted a leg infection as a result of complications from peripheral artery disease.

‘An infection in my leg got steadily worse,’ he told The Enquirer. ‘I felt like I was beaten with a whip.’

jan-michael-vincent-with wife

Vincent’s third wife, Anna, admitted that doctors were left with no option but to amputate the lower half of his right leg.

Jan-Michael Vincent amputation

Once an avid surfer, his other great wish was to get out on the waves once again – a sad end to what had been such a “golden” life.

Vincent’s story isn’t unusual: Hollywood is a tough town, and it has taken many great artists. It’s a very sad end indeed.

RIP Jan-Michael Vincent…


Categories: 70's Cinema, Action Films, Books / Media, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Great Films, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Memoirs, Movies, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

27 replies

  1. I remember Jan-Michael Vincent as a young actor who had everything going for himself.

    I prefer to remember him as a success story who achieved his dreams in a short period of time but did not survive how to deal with his celebrity and success.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You filled in many blanks I had wondered about him. Thanks John.


  3. I am sorry to hear of his tragic tale.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So awful. I loved Airwolf.


  5. A horrible photo of this star, John. Terrible to mess up your life like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very Sad, I always liked him

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Shocking to hear of this sad news. Yes, the business and fame can really do a number on people. May he rest in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So sad…Fame has its price 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sad. The price of fame can be a very high price indeed.


  10. A tragic end indeed, John. Another casualty of being unable to cope with fame, it seems.
    The difference in the photos is startling.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  11. This is so sad. Hollywood really does a number on its actors.😞

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Jan-Michael Vincent! From 70’s Sexiest Man To A “True Hollywood” Tragedy! – johnrieber
  2. RIP Jan-Michael Vincent…From Superstar To True Hollywood Tragedy… | Admit One Film Addict

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