Jan-Michael Vincent, who briefly rose to prominence as a young leading man in films in the 1970s and 1980s then became a TV star with CBS’ action series Airwolf in the mid-’80s, died February 10 in North Carolina. He was 73.
A death certificate obtained by TMZ noted Vincent died of cardiac arrest while a patient at an Asheville hospital. His death had not been previously reported.
Vincent started his career in the late 1960s with guest roles in TV series including Dragnet, Lassie, Bonanza and Gunsmoke before his first feature film, 1971’s Going Home opposite Robert Mitchum and Brenda Vaccaro. That led to a co-starring role opposite Charles Bronson in Michael Winner’s 1972 movie The Mechanic. He starred in several movies in rapid succession in the mid-’70s including trucker drama White Line Fever, World War II-set Baby Blue Marine, John Millius’ surfing pic Big Wednesday with Gary Busey and William Katt and opposite Burt Reynolds in Hal Needham’s generational stuntman romp Hooper.
He was nominated for two Golden Globes: supporting actor for Going Home and supporting actor for the 1983 miniseries The Winds of War.
Then came Airwolf, the Donald P. Bellisario-created series that ran for three seasons from 1984-86 on CBS and a fourth on USA Network in 1987. Vincent played Stringfellow Hawke, the pilot of an advanced prototype supersonic helicopter who with his team took on various covert government missions. Ernest Borgnine co-starred. The Big 3 broadcast networks all launched chopper-themed series in Janaury 1984 after the theatrical success of Blue Thunder the previous summer.
Vincent, who had documented problems with alcoholism and drug abuse, suffered a broken neck in a high-profile 2006 car crash while chasing a girlfriend he was fighting with. He recovered, but his career slowed. In 2012 an infection resulted in a partial amputation of his right leg.
His last credit was in the 2002 movie White Boy.