NEW YORK Fred Ward, a veteran actor who brought a gruff fondness to tough guy roles in films such as The Right Stuff, The Player and Tremors, has died. He was 79 years old.
Mr. Ward died on Sunday, his publicist Ron Hofmann announced on Friday. No cause or place of death has been released according to the wishes of the family.
Mr. Ward won a Golden Globe and shared the Venice Film Festival’s Ensemble Award for his performance in Robert Altmans Short Cuts, and played the title character in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. He also reached new heights playing Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil Gus Grissom in the 1983 Oscar-nominated film The Right Stuff.
Devastated to hear of the passing of my friend, Fred Ward, tweeted actor Matthew Modine, who co-starred with Mr Ward in Short Cuts and Alan Rudolphs Equinox. A harsh facade covering emotions as deep as the Pacific Ocean. Good luck friend.
A former boxer, Alaskan lumberjack and short-lived cook who served in the US Air Force, Mr. Ward was a San Diego native who was part of the Cherokee. One of the first major roles was alongside Clint Eastwood in 1979’s Escape From Alcatraz.
I mourn the loss of Fred Ward, who was so kind to me when we worked together on Remo Williams, tweeted actress Kate Mulgrew. Decent and modest and utterly professional, he disarmed with a smile that was both warm and mischievous.
Mr Wards’ other roles included a scruffy cop chasing a psychotic criminal played by Alec Baldwin in George Armitages Miami Blues. He was a terrific and intimidating father to the character of Freddie Prinze Jr. in Summer Catch and the lead character of David Spades in Joe Dirt.
Mr Ward starred as President Reagan in the 2009 Cold War spy thriller Farewell and had a supporting role in the 2013 action film 2 Guns, starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.
In the horror-comedy Tremors, Mr. Ward teamed up with Kevin Bacon to play a pair of repairmen who end up saving a Nevada desert community plagued by giant underground snakes.
With the sexually charged Henry & June NC-17s, Mr. Ward showed more than courage. Based on the book by Anais Nin and directed by Philip Kaufman, Mr. Ward played novelist Henry Miller, opposite Nin and his wife, June. My rear end seemed to have something to do with (that note), he told The Washington Post.
He also teamed with Altman for the role of a studio security chief in the director’s 1992 Hollywood satire The Player, and played a labor activist and colleague of Meryl Streeps in Mike Nichols Silkwood in 1983.
Mr. Ward demonstrated his acting skills by playing a terrorist intent on blowing up the Oscars in Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult in 1994.
On the small screen, he had recurring roles on NBCs ER playing Maura Tierneys father Abby Lockhart in 2006-2007 and starred in such series as Grays Anatomy, Leverage and United States of Tara. Mr. Ward most recently appeared on the second season of HBO’s True Detective as the retired policeman father of Colin Farrells Det. Ray Velcoro.
Mr. Ward is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward and his son, Django Ward.
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