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Actor Fred Ward, of ‘Tremors’, ‘The Right Stuff’ Fame, Dies

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Fred Ward, a veteran actor who brought a gruff tenderness to tough guy roles in films such as The good thing, The player and Tremors, is dead. He was 79 years old.

Ward died on Sunday, his publicist Ron Hofmann said Friday. No cause or place of death has been released according to the wishes of the family.

Ward won a Golden Globe and shared the Venice Film Festival’s Ensemble Award for his performance in Robert Altman Shortcutsand played the main 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 good thing.

Devastated to hear of the passing of my friend, Fred Ward, tweeted actor Matthew Modine, who co-starred with Ward in Shortcuts 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 U.S. Air Force, Ward was a San Diego native who was part Cherokee. One of the first major roles was alongside Clint Eastwood in the 1979s 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.

Ward’s other roles included a crumpled 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 main character of David Spades in Joe Dirt.

Ward played President Ronald Reagan in the 2009 Cold War spy thriller Goodbye and had a supporting role in the 2013 action film 2 gunswith Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.

In horror comedy TremorsWard 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, NC-17 Henry & June, Ward showed more than courage. Based on the book by Anais Nin and directed by Philip Kaufman, Ward played novelist Henry Miller, opposite Maria de Medeiros as Nin and Uma Thurman as Miller’s wife June. My rear end seemed to have something to do with (that rating), he said The Washington Post.

He also teamed up with Altman for the role of a studio security chief in the director’s 1992 Hollywood satire. The playerand played a union activist and colleague of Meryl Streeps in Mike Nichols silk wood in 1983.

Ward demonstrated his comedy chops by playing a terrorist intent on blowing up the Oscars in Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Ultimate Insult In 1994.

On the small screen, he had recurring roles on NBC IS playing Maura Tierneys Abby Lockhart’s father in 2006-07 and guest starring in series such as Grey’s Anatomy, Leverage and United States of Tara. Ward most recently appeared in HBO’s second season real detective as the retired detective father of Detective Colin Farrells Ray Velcoro.

Ward is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward, and his son, Django Ward.

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