Actor Harry Dean Stanton Dies At 91

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Actor Harry Dean Stanton has died at 91.

The character actor, known for his roles in works like "Escape From New York," died in Los Angeles on September 15, the New York Times reports.

Stanton's agent, John S. Kelly, confirmed the actor's death at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Stanton, who recently returned to the screen in "Twin Peaks: The Return," had a long career in film and television spanning from the 1950s up to 2017.

Stanton grew up in Kentucky, where he said he "sang barbershop harmony, and sort of got into performing," Variety reports.

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"And it just came naturally," said the actor of his early days performing. "Then when I was in college after the war, I did a play, 'Pygmalion,' by George Bernard Shaw. And from then on, I knew that's what I wanted to do."

Stanton's first movie role was in "Revolt at Fort Laramie" in 1956. He went on to appear in films including "Straight Time," "Cool Hand Luke," "Repo Man," "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me," "Paris, Texas," and "Alien."

"I'm not overly impressed with it all, you know?" said Stanton in 1985, reflecting on his career. "After your 50s, I mean, you’ve been around quite a while. But it's fulfilling... It makes life easier... Fame in itself is, you know... It involves a whole discussion on just that word, 'fame.' It's a power, it's another degree of power, to be famous. I think it's obvious, you have more influence, the more well-known you are. And, hopefully, it's righteously used."

Early in his career, Stanton had been typecast in roles like villains and cowboys.

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"I hated being typecast in those roles," said the actor in 1987. "It was personally limiting, only playing stereotyped heavies. But I got those roles because I was angry, because that's what I projected... and I had an extreme lack of self confidence."

He added that he became less angry and more self-aware with the help of Eastern mysticism.

In 1989, film critic Roger Ebert wrote of Stanton, "No movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad."

Turner Classic Movies described Stanton as "a restless, unconventional spirit off-camera," adding that the actor "always lent a sympathetic realness to the menacing criminals and barroom-dwelling outsiders he stashed beneath his craggy face and wiry, worn frame."

"Twin Peaks" creator David Lynch paid tribute to Stanton, saying he was a great actor. The pair had worked together on "Twin Peaks: The Return" as well as Lynch's film "Wild at Heart."

"The great Harry Dean Stanton has left us," wrote Lynch. "There went a great one. There's nobody like Harry Dean. Everyone Loved him. And with good reason. He was a great actor (actually beyond great) - and a great human being - so great to be around him!!! You are really going to be missed Harry Dean!!! Loads of love to you wherever you are now!!!"

Sources: New York Times, Variety (2), CNN / Featured Image: Tom Blunt/Flickr / Embedded Images: Charlie Llewellin/Flickr, Wikimedia Commons

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