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Harry Dean Stanton has passed away

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The legend that is Harry Dean Stanton has died at the age of 91 of natural causes.

He died at Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles on Friday, his agent John Kelly said in a statement. He said Stanton was “beloved in the entertainment industry” and earned a reputation for his “meticulous preparation” and easygoing personality.

Stanton’s career spanned over 60 years, during which he appeared in such films as Cool Hand Luke, Kelly’s Heroes, Dillinger, The Godfather Part II, Alien, Escape from New York, Christine, Paris, Texas, Repo Man, Pretty in Pink, The Last Temptation of Christ, Wild at Heart, The Straight Story, The Green Mile, Alpha Dog, and Inland Empire.

Stanton appeared in indie and cult films (Two-Lane Blacktop, Cockfighter, Escape from New York, Repo Man), as well as many mainstream Hollywood productions, including Cool Hand Luke, The Godfather Part II, Alien, Red Dawn, Alpha Dog, Pretty in Pink, Stephen King’s Christine and The Green Mile. He was a favourite actor of Sam Peckinpah, John Milius, David Lynch, and Monte Hellman, and was also close friends with Francis Ford Coppola.

His breakthrough part came with the lead role in director Wim Wenders’ film Paris, Texas (1984). Playwright Sam Shepard, the movie’s screenwriter, had spotted Stanton at a bar in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1983 while both were attending a film festival in that city, and the two fell into conversation. “I was telling him I was sick of the roles I was playing,” Stanton recalled in a 1986 interview. “I told him I wanted to play something of some beauty or sensitivity. I had no inkling he was considering me for the lead in his movie.” Not long afterward, Shepard phoned him in Los Angeles to offer Stanton the part of protagonist Travis, “a role that called for the actor to remain largely silent … as a lost, broken soul trying to put his life back together and reunite with his estranged family after having vanished years earlier.”

His television credits were extensive, including eight appearances between 1958 and 1968 on CBS’s Gunsmoke and four on the network’s Rawhide, as well as a cameo as himself on Two and a Half Men (having previously appeared with Jon Cryer in Pretty in Pink and with Charlie Sheen in Red Dawn), and alongside Sean Penn and Elvis Costello. He had been featured since 2006 as Roman Grant, the manipulative leader/prophet of a polygamous sect in the HBO television series Big Love. He also played Henry in an episode of the television series Adam-12.

More recently, he appeared in the hit HBO show Big Love and this year’s revival of the cult classic Twin Peaks. Stanton’s last role was in Lucky – a film to be released later this month.

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