The actor Harry Dean Stanton died today in Los Angeles, according to a report from Anita Gates in the New York Times. Stanton, perhaps best known for his role in Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas (1984), also frequently worked with David Lynch, appearing in Wild at Heart (1990), The Straight Story (1999), and the recent revival of Twin Peaks, the latter of which Sarah Nicole Prickett recapped for artforum.com.
Born in West Irvine, Kentucky, in 1926, he served in the Navy during World War II and was stationed in the Pacific before he attended the University of Kentucky, where he was drawn to drama. He dropped out after three years and moved to Los Angeles, where he studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. Stanton made his first television appearance in 1954 in an episode of “Inner Sanctum,” a syndicated mystery and suspense anthology series. His first film was Tomahawk Trail (1957), the first of many Western films and TV shows that the character actor appeared in earlier in his career. Paris, Texas, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival after its release, marked a breakthrough in his career, as he had generally been typecast into supporting roles prior to Wenders’s film.
Later in life, he had a leading role in the HBO series Big Love (2006–11), playing a polygamous, self-proclaimed prophet. He also played in the Harry Dean Stanton Band, a rock, blues, jazz, and Tex-Mex group that performed at Los Angeles nightclubs as well as on tour.