Former Quantum Leap star Dean Stockwell, an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated actor whose stage, film and TV career spanned more than 70 years and 200 credits, has died. He was 85. The actor died peacefully in the early morning of November 7 at home of natural causes, a rep for the family confirmed to Deadline.
Stockwell was born on March 5, 1936, in North Hollywood. By the time he was 7, he was on Broadway, launching a career as a child actor. He appeared in Anchors Aweigh with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly; Kim with Errol Flynn; Gentleman’s Agreement, which landed him a Golden Globe Award; and, most notably, in the controversial 1948 movie The Boy with the Green Hair.
As a young adult in 1957, Stockwell returned to the Broadway stage in Compulsion with Roddy McDowall, who became a lifelong friend. Stockwell reprised his role in the 1959 film version and won his first of two Best Actor awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Stockwell also starred in Sons and Lovers and Long Day’s Journey Into Night with Katharine Hepburn, which delivered him his second Best Actor prize at Cannes.
Stockwell was on the verge of a career change as he got a real estate license and packed up the family to leave Hollywood when he received a phone call from Harry Dean Stanton, who convinced him to join him on the set of Wim Wenders’ 1984 film Paris, Texas. That led to a string of memorable film roles in Blue Velvet, Dune, Married to the Mob — which earned Stockwell an Academy Award nomination for Supporting Actor — The Rainmaker and The Player.
It was in television where Stockwell delivered one of his signature performances, on the quirky 1989-93 sci-fi TV series Quantum Leap. He played Admiral Al Calavicci opposite Scott Bakula, receiving four Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe Award for his role. Stockwell’s series credits also include the 2000s Battlestar Galactica; JAG, from Quantum Leap creator Don Bellisario; The Tony Danza Show; and NCIS: New Orleans, among others.
Stockwell also starred in a popular 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone called “A Quality of Mercy,” in which he plays a double role of American and Japanese lieutenants on either side pending massacres. The episode also featured a pre-Star Trek Leonard Nimoy.
He also guested on such popular series as Bonanza, Wagon Train, Dr. Kildare, The F.B.I., Mission: Impossible, Night Gallery, Columbo, Police Story, Hart to Hart, The A-Team, Miami Vice and Murder, She Wrote. His other film credits include Psych Out, The Dunwich Horror, Tracks, Gardens of Stone, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, The Long Haul, Sandino, Chasers, McHale’s Navy, The Rainmaker and 1984’s Dune.
In recent years, Stockwell, who retired from acting in 2015, did pursue a career change, making art and exhibiting around the U.S. under his full name, Robert Dean Stockwell.
Those close to Stockwell describe him as a rebel who loved to act, to laugh, smoke cigars and play golf.
He is survived by his wife, Joy Stockwell, and their two children, Austin Stockwell and Sophie Stockwell.
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