Actor Fred Ward, known for starring in films such as The Right Stuff (1983) and Tremors (1990), has died at the age of 79. His is the latest in a series of sad losses of silver-screen stars (e.g., Bob Saget and Gilbert Gottfried). The actor’s death was confirmed by his publicist Ron Hoffman. Ward passed away on Sunday, May 8, from undisclosed causes. According to CNN, Ward’s acting career started in the 1970s after serving three years in the U.S. Air Force. He also worked as a boxer, a short-order cook, and a lumberjack before landing his first major role in Clint Eastwood’s Escape from Alcatraz (1979). Ward went on to star as real-life Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom in The Right Stuff, chain-smoking alcoholic author Henry Miller in Henry & June (1990) and had many other roles in TV and film.
Fred Ward’s Publicist Remembers the Actor
Hoffman honored Ward in an email to NPR, which read:
“The unique thing about Fred Ward is that you never knew where he was going to pop up, so unpredictable were his career choices. He could play such diverse characters as Remo Williams, a cop trained by Chiun, Master of Sinanju (Joel Grey) to become an unstoppable assassin in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, or Earl Bass, who, alongside Kevin Bacon, battle giant, worm-like monsters hungry for human flesh in ‘cult’ horror/comedy film, Tremors (1990), or a detective in the indie film Two Small Bodies (1993) directed by underground filmmaker Beth B., or a terrorist planning to blow up the Academy Awards in The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994), or the father of the lead character in Jennifer Lopez’s revenge thriller Enough (2002).”
Along with his acting and all the other jobs he did prior, Fred Ward was also a visual artist. He spent much of his later year’s painting.
Actor Fred Ward is survived by his wife Marie-France Ward and his son Django Ward.