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Famed Character Actor Michael Parks Dead At 77

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Hollywood is in mourning today following the news that Michael Parks, a prolific veteran of television and film, has passed. He was 77.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Parks' agent, Jane Schulman, released a statement Tuesday, May 9 confirming the actor's passing. The Daily Mail reports that Parks' career spanned more than 50 years, 100 films and TV shows.

Born the son of a baseball player in April 1940, Parks started acting early, appearing on ABC's "The Real McCoys" in 1961 and "Gunsmoke" in 1962.

Parks moved quickly between television roles, appearing in "Perry Mason," "Sam Benedict," "Dynasty" spin-off "The Colbys," NBC adventure show "Then Came Bronson," and eventually David Lynch's "Twin Peaks," in which he played the role of Canadian drug runner Jean Renault.

His work on "Then Came Bronson" also let Parks explore a different avenue of expression: song. According to the Daily Mail, Parks recorded the theme for the show, "Long Lonesome Highway," which made it onto multiple Billboard charts. Parks, a close friend of Johnny Cash, would go on to record three studio albums.

Parks also made a lasting impact on the big screen as well, appearing in Ben Affleck's "Argo," Quentin Tarantino's "From Dusk Till Dawn" and Kevin Smith's "Tusk."

Variety suggests Parks might be best known for his recent work with directors Smith, Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. He appeared in Tarantino's "Kill Bill" franchise and "Django Unchained," as well as Rodriguez's "Death Proof."

Perhaps his best known role came in 2011's "Red State," written and directed by Smith, in which Parks plays extremist pastor Abin Cooper, the film's central antagonist.

Over Parks' long career, he made many lasting impacts. Smith in particular wrote a moving Instagram eulogy, dubbing Parks his "cinematic muse."

"Michael was, and will likely forever remain, the best actor I've ever known. I wrote both #RedState and ["Tusk"] FOR Parks, I loved his acting so much. He was, hands-down, the most incredible thespian I ever had the pleasure to watch perform. And Parks brought out the absolute best in me every time he got near my set … I was so f***ing blessed to have worked with this bonafide genius," Smith posted on Instagram.

Smith closed his post with: "My heart goes out to James (Michael's son), Oriana (Michael's wife), Quentin Tarantino (Michael's biggest fan) and any movie or music lover who was ever dazzled by the talents of Michael Parks … Farewell old friend, I'll see you farther along."

Parks is survived by his wife, Oriana, his son, James, and his countless fans and admirers.

Sources: The Hollywood Reporter, Daily Mail,Variety / Photo Credit: NBC Television / Wikimedia Commons

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