Veteran casting director Patrick “Geno” Havens, whose credits include the Steve Martin classic The Jerk but who might most fondly be remembered for such ’70s cult classics as Switchblade Sisters, The Swinging Cheerleaders and Brian de Palma’s The Phantom of the Paradise, died Thursday at USC Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 75 and had recently suffered a stroke.
Though he had a few acting and producing credits, it was as a casting director that Havens left his mark, particularly within the lower-budget genre fare of the 1970s and ’80s. Among his films: More American Graffiti, the Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle Girls Just Want to Have Fun, the John Sayles-penned Alligator and the 1978 TV miniseries Centennial.
In 2011, Havens joined Timepiece Entertainment as Director, Creative Development. A Timepiece bio says that Havens started acting while a student at the University of Utah, later taking a job behind the camera with Roos/Fenton Casting and also working as a dialogue coach for George Lucas’ American Graffiti. He was a casting assistant on the Terrence Malick drama Days of Heaven, and worked with directors Arthur Marks and Jack Hill now-classic blaxploitation films Bucktown and Friday Foster in addition to Switchblade Sisters.
A full list of survivors was not available. In a Facebook posting Thursday, his longtime friend Sheila Lussier noted that Havens died surrounded by loved ones. “He did so much for so many of us who were once just kids in Hollywood trying to make it,” she wrote.