Veteran character actor Fred Ward in film and television has died, according to his publicist, Ron Hoffman.
Ward, known for his work on The Right Stuff, Shortcuts and many other films, died on May 8 at the age of 79. No cause of death was given.
Ward began performing in the early 1970s after serving in the U.S. Air Force for three years. A Renaissance man, Ward also worked in Alaska as a short-term cook, boxer, and lumberjack. His first major role was in Clint Eastwood’s 1979 film Escape from Alcatraz.
In “The Right Stuff,” Ward portrayed real-life Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Gleason. He switched gears in “Henry and June,” playing the smoking, alcoholic author Henry Miller, who traveled to Paris in 1931 to complete his book, “The Tropic of Cancer.”
In 1988, Ward bought the film rights to the Miami Blues, in which Wardhawk played a seasoned Miami detective trying to target a wily ex-convict.
Ward later worked with Robert Altman in The Player, played the gangster in Alan Rudolph’s Equinox, and was a TV news anchor for Tim Robbins’ Bob Roberts. In 1993, he played one of three friends whose bodies were found while fishing in Short Cuts.
“Fred Ward is unique in that you never know where he ends up and his career decisions are so unpredictable,” Hoffman said in an emailed statement.
Ward’s other films include Summer Catch, Sweet Home Alabama and Abandon. On TV, Ward starred in series such as Tara’s America, Grey’s Anatomy, Leverage, True Detective, and more.
Also an artist, Ward has turned some of his creative talents to painting in recent years.
He is survived by his wife Marie-France Ward, 27, and son Django Ward.