“Quantum Leap” actor Dean Stockwell dies at the age of 85

Former child star Dean Stockwell, the Oscar-nominated actor who kept turning his back on Hollywood only to gain cult status in “Blue Velvet” and “Married to the Mob”, has died.

The veteran actor, who has appeared in more than 200 roles in film, television and theater, starred in “The Boy With Green Hair,” “Anchors Aweigh,” “Blue Velvet” and “Married to the Mob” before joining The Little One turned screen for star roles in the science fiction series “Quantum Leap” and “Battlestar Galactica”.

Stockwell died peacefully at home early Sunday morning from natural causes, Agent Jay Schwartz said in a statement to the Times on Tuesday. He was 85.

“I had the pleasure of working with Dean Stockwell for a short period of time before he retired from the entertainment industry,” his former manager Lesa Kirk said in a statement to the Times. “Dean was gentle, kind, and unique, a class. Dean will really be missing. “

Stockwell was a child of Hollywood: he was born Robert Dean Stockwell in North Hollywood in 1936 to a show business family with stage parents. His father was Harry Stockwell, who voiced Prince Charming in Walt Disney’s 1937 cartoon “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” and his mother Betty was an actress and dancer. His younger brother, Guy Stockwell, was an actor who appeared in dozens of films and television shows and later became an acting coach before his death in 2002.

Actor Dean Stockwell in December 1959.

(Associated Press)

Stockwell’s parents pushed him into the theater at the age of 7, and as a young boy he made his Broadway debut with his brother in 1943 in The Innocent Voyage. Two years later he signed as a contract player with MGM, where he made his film debut in “The Valley of Decision” with Greer Garson and Gregory Peck.

In the same year he caused a sensation alongside Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson in Gene Kelly’s classic musical comedy “Anchors Aweigh”. Over the next seven years he appeared in 17 MGM films, including “The Green Years” (1946), “Gentleman’s Agreement” (1947), “The Boy With Green Hair” (1948) and “The Secret Garden” (1949) ). .

By the age of 15, he’d already made 20 films but didn’t like the attention, so he said goodbye to Hollywood in 1952 when he was only 16, which odd jobs he could do.

But with few marketable skills, he returned to acting in 1957 and appeared in a Broadway production of “Compulsion” as an intense lead actor. He repeated the role for the 1959 film adaptation and won an acting award at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance. He also appeared as Edmund opposite Katharine Hepburn and Ralph Richardson in the 1962 film adaptation of Long Day’s Journey Into Night. This achievement earned him another Cannes Prize.

The actor married “The Diary of Anne Frank” star Millie Perkins in 1960, but divorced two years later. Despite his renewed success, Stockwell took a three-year hiatus from the industry in the 1960s and became a self-proclaimed hippie hanging out in Topanga Canyon with actors Dennis Hopper and Russ Tamblyn.

He made another comeback in the early 1970s, appearing in several television and film roles, only to leave the business again in 1976. During the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, he met his second wife, Joy Marchenko, on the beach, and they married in 1981.

Stockwell returned to Hollywood and made his directorial debut with Neil Young in the quirky apocalyptic comedy Human Highway, which he wrote with Hopper and Tamblyn in 1982 and in which he starred. But again he gave up his acting career and sold real estate in Santa Fe, New York

“The [best acting] I threw scrolls from Cannes into the fireplace one night, ”he said in an interview with the Times in 1990. “I don’t know. I couldn’t get a job. I was depressed. I was [angry] One night and I threw it into the fire. “

But no sooner had he left town than Hollywood looked for him again.

Stockwell played supporting roles in a number of films before meeting director David Lynch in Mexico City. Lynch said he thought Stockwell had already died.

“This person looked familiar to me, but [I told myself] It couldn’t be who I thought it was and I felt a little crazy, ”Lynch told the Times in 1990. “Then I realized that it was Dean and he was alive.”

Dean Stockwell, right, and Scott Bakula in the TV series

Dean Stockwell, right, and Scott Bakula on the TV series “Quantum Leap,” which aired from 1989-1993.

(Steve Fontanini / Los Angeles Times)

The duo worked together on Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of “Dune,” in which Stockwell played the evil Dr. Wellington Yueh played. He stayed with Lynch when the director began filming Blue Velvet, in which he played a pimp who cooed while torturing a girl.

“I didn’t feel like I was taking a risk with Blue Velvet,” Stockwell told the Times. “I felt like I hit the nail on the head. Dennis [Hopper] played an unforgivable psycho in the film, and I was supposed to be someone he admired. I realized that I had to be stranger than him. “

Still, Stockwell said he never felt part of the mainstream show business.

“I always felt like I was standing apart,” he told The Times in 1986. “People always ask me, ‘Why do you always do these fancy films?’ The answer is: Usually they are just offered to me. ”

But Hollywood eventually took notice, and Stockwell received an Academy Award nomination for supporting actor for Jonathan Demme’s 1988 comedy “Married to the Mob,” in which he played Mafioso Tony “The Tiger” Russo.

Immediately after the nomination, Stockwell took over the role of Adm. Al Calavicci, a wise cracking hologram and best friend of Scott Bakula’s time-traveling physicist, on NBC’s science fiction series “Quantum Leap” from 1989-1993; In 1990 he won a Golden Globe Award. The series earned both men a cult following that continued when Stockwell played John Cavil in Syfy’s acclaimed “Battlestar Galactica,” which ran from 2006-2009.

Stockwell has appeared in several other films, including the action thriller “Air Force One” starring Harrison Ford in 1997 and “The Manchurian Candidate” in 2004. He also had recurring roles on the short-lived series “The Tony Danza Show”. and “JAG”. In 2014 he met again with Bakula for a guest appearance on “NCIS: New Orleans”. In their later years, the couple also made the rounds at various comic and science fiction conventions.

An avowed environmentalist, Stockwell spoke about the eco-villain Duke Nukem in the 1990s environmental cartoon series “Captain Planet and the Planeteers”.

His admirers raised the actor’s $ 30,000 sponsorship fee to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame by recycling bottles and cans.

Stockwell leaves behind his wife, Joy, and their two children, Austin and Sophie.

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