Dean Stockwell, “The Boy With Green Hair” who grew up to become one of the most beloved adult character actors of his generation, has died. The four-time “Quantum Leap” Emmy nominee and 1989 Oscar nominee for “Married to the Mob” was 85.
The accomplished actor and visual artist with more than 70 years’ worth of credits on his résumé passed peacefully at his home in Taos, New Mexico, of natural causes, his reps have confirmed.
Born Robert Dean Stockwell in 1936, the Hollywood native got his start in a series of supporting MGM child actor parts throughout the ’40s, including 1945’s “Anchors Aweigh” with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, 1947’s “Gentleman’s Agreement” opposite Gregory Peck and a starring role in Joseph Losey’s 1948 Technicolor sleeper hit “The Boy With Green Hair,” which made him a cult icon of sorts.
“I started at a very early age in this business and I’m sure most of you have read stories about people who have started as children and ended up in very difficult lives and bad consequences,” Stockwell once said of his early days as a kid star, according to his IMDb bio. “It’s not the easiest life in the world, but then no life is easy.”
His “Quantum Leap” co-star Scott Bakula said Stockwell’s decades in the biz resulted in “the greatest work ethic.” Bakula, 67, told LA’s ABC7, “He was a breath of fresh air and kept me laughing. He was unique in his determination to make each role his own.”
But before his TV and film fame, Stockwell suffered the struggles of many an aging former child star. During his awkward teen years, he mastered his craft in a string of guest gigs in 1950s “Golden Age of TV” series, including “The Twilight Zone,” “Wagon Train,” “Playhouse 90” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.” In 1965, he took on the regular role of Dr. Rudy Devereaux opposite Richard Chamberlain’s “Dr. Kildare.”
Aside from a role as Billy the Kid in Dennis Hopper’s cult misfire “The Last Movie” in 1971, Stockwell would spend most of that trailblazing decade stuck in lackluster guest roles on “McCloud,” “Hart to Hart,” “The A-Team” and “Simon & Simon.”
However, Stockwell’s impact in the era still touched greatness: A screenplay he wrote was the inspiration for Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s seminal 1970 recording “After The Gold Rush.” In 1977, he designed the cover art for Young’s “American Stars’nBars” album. His friendship with Young would eventually lead to the duo co-directing and starring in the cult movie “Human Highway” in 1982.
“We made that movie without a script,” Stockwell told his local Taos tourism site in 2016.
His big screen comeback — some might call it his big break — came in Wim Wenders’ haunting “Paris, Texas,” a 1984 art house classic co-starring Harry Dean Stanton and Nastassja Kinski. Later that year, he starred as Doctor Wellington Yueh in David Lynch’s now-legendary adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune.”
The rest of that decade was filled with scene-stealing roles in acclaimed films such as Lynch’s “Blue Velvet,” William Friedkin’s “To Live and Die in L.A.,” Eddie Murphy’s “Beverly Hills Cop,” Francis Ford Coppola’s “Gardens of Stone” and his Oscar-nominated turn as Michelle Pfeiffer’s wiseguy stalker in Jonathan Demme’s “Married to the Mob.”
But his biggest fame came with household name status via TV: His role as Admiral Al Calavicci in the NBC time travel series “Quantum Leap” earned him four Emmy nominations from 1989 to 1993.
After a recurring role in “Battlestar Galactica” from 2006 to 2009, his last credited role was “NCIS: New Orleans” in 2014 and a low-budget indie titled “Entertainment,” with John C. Reilly and Michael Cera, in 2015. He retired from acting at 78.
He spent the last decade making fine art and exhibiting at galleries around the country under his full name, Robert Dean Stockwell.
Those close to the artist describe him as a rebel who loved to act, laugh, smoke cigars and play golf, Deadline reported.
Stockwell is survived by his wife, Joy, and their children, Austin and Sophie.
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