ICONS: The Career of HARRY DEAN STANTON
“I’ve always felt as an outsider. I’ve been rebellious against any iconoclastic thing. It’s true about the industry, but also about society as a whole. I don’t blame anyone, but I think that society is negative in that people are terrified to be free. I was born on the edge of the mountains in Kentucky and now although I live in Hollywood I still feel more related to nature. It’s an attitude. I have a pool, but it’s to do laps in, not a status symbol.”
This past weekend actor/musician Harry Dean Stanton turned 87. That got me thinking about his extensive career and how I’ve been a fan of him for about as long as I’ve been a movie geek. Going through his filmography turned out to be like looking over a list of some of my all time favorite films. I think for many people of my generation Harry Dean Stanton is one of those special actors that always stood out from the crowd. He often plays scruffy rebels, curmudgeons and people who don’t quite fit in with regular society. That’s probably one reason why so many movie viewers took a liking to him over the years. He always brings a level of offbeat humor and frank realism to the stories he’s a part of as well. In addition to his acting he can be seen playing guitar and singing songs in several of his films which always made his time onscreen that much more memorable.
Harry was born in West Irvine, Kentucky on July 14, 1926. During his teen years he sang in a barber shop quartet. He later attended college at the University of Kentucky, Lexington where he studied radio arts and journalism. After entering the Navy during World War II, he served as a cook on a Transport ship during the Battle of Okinawa. Upon returning to the States he studied acting at The Pasadena Playhouse in California. A few of his early film roles included small parts in Tomahawk Trail (1957), Pork Chop Hill (1959) and How The West Was Won (1962). From the 1960s right up to today he has appeared in many television shows and films, being a face that almost anyone can recognize.
We’ve put together a little tribute to Mr. Stanton, one of our favorite Mad As Hell Heroes of cinema and pointed out just some of the films that he’s appeared in that we love and recommend to readers.
Cool Hand Luke – Tramp
Kelly’s Heroes – Pvt. Willard
Dillinger – Homer Van Meter
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid – Luke
The Godfather Part II – FBI Agent
Straight Time – Jerry Schue
Alien – Brett
Escape From New York – Brain
Christine – Detective Junkins
Paris Texas – Travis Henderson
Red Dawn – Mr Eckert
Repo Man – Bud Light
Pretty in Pink – Jack Walsh
The Last Temptation of Christ – Saul/Paul of Tarsus
Wild at Heart – Johnnie Farragut
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – The Judge
The Straight Story – Lyle
The Avengers – Security Guard
“I felt very much at home on the stage, more so than off it because I could express everything that I couldn’t express elsewhere — yes, anger, but also tenderness. It’s not always easy to be as gentle as you wish to be.”