Todd Williamson/FilmMagic
September 15, 2017 06:42 PM

Harry Dean Stanton, a veteran American character actor, has died. He was 91.

Stanton, who starred in Big Love, died of natural causes at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles Friday, Stanton’s agent confirms to PEOPLE, adding, “Harry Dean is survived by family and friends who loved him.”

The character actor is best remembered for his roles in Paris, Texas, Cool Hand Luke, Alien, Pretty in Pink, and his work with David Lynch. Stanton was in three of Lynch’s films and reprised his role as Carl Rodd in Fire Walk With Me in Showtime’s 2017 reboot of Twin Peaks.

Born in Kentucky in 1926, he served in the Navy in World War II and fought in the Battle of Okinawa. After completing his service, Stanton made his first onstage appearance in a University of Kentucky production of Pygmalion.

From 2006-2011, Stanton played manipulative cult leader Roman Grant on HBO’s polygamy drama. And recently, he portrayed trailer park guardian Carl Rodd in the Twin Peaks revival.


Stanton’s breakout role was playing Travis in the classic 1984 film Paris, Texas, which won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival that same year. It was the first movie in which Stanton was ever cast as the leading man and he credited Sam Shepard, screenwriter of Paris, Texas, for getting him the part.

Stanton told the New York Times that in 1983, he found himself in the same Santa Fe bar as Shephard and two bonded over tequila shots.


“I was telling him I was sick of the roles I was playing,” Stanton said. “I told him I wanted to play something of some beauty or sensitivity. I had no inkling he was considering me for the lead in his movie.”

Shortly after Stanton returned to L.A. he got a call from Shepard offering him the part.

”My first question was, ‘Why aren’t you doing it?’ ” Stanton said. ”Sam said it was too indulgent, and besides, he was also doing ‘Country’ at the time. So I said, ‘Yes.’”


But for most of Stanton’s career, he made a name for himself playing offbeat, smaller characters, in movies like Repo Man, Pretty in Pink and Alien. He later voiced a character in the animated film Rango alongside Johnny Depp.

Stanton was also a singer, who played rhythm guitar and harmonica in a Tex-Mex band that performed at The Mint in Los Angeles and at Dan Tana’s in West Hollywood.

“In addition to his work as an actor, music was always a passion for Harry Dean,” his agent said in a statement. “A very talented musician, his music career spanned decades entertaining thousands singing and playing the guitar, including his years of performances fronting the eclectic Harry Dean Stanton Band.”

Stanton’s last film project, Lucky, is set to be released on Sept. 29.

  • Reporting by MIKE MILLER

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