American actor Dean Stockwell died last Sunday, November 7. He was 85 years old. Between her debut as a child star in the 1940s and her comeback forty years later in films like Paris Texas by Wim Wenders, Blue Velvet by David Lynch and Widow but not too much by Jonathan Demme, he had held nearly 90 roles on the big screen.
On television, he was just as prolific since successive generations of spectators have seen him in iconic series such as “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, “The Great Caravan”, “The Fourth Dimension”, “The Young Doctor Kildare”, “Mission Impossible”, “Columbo”, “Quantum Code” and “Battlestar Galactica”.
When he was not even nine years old, Dean Stockwell had imposed himself on the cinema for the first time in 1945. After small child roles in The Valley of Judgment by Tay Garnett, Stopover in Hollywood by George Sidney, The Green Years by Victor Saville, Mom hates the police by Lloyd Bacon, The invisible wall by Elia Kazan – Oscar for Best Film in 1948 – and Deep waters by Henry King, he played the title role in The Boy with Green Hair of Joseph Losey in 1948. His youthful career would continue for a few short years, punctuated among others by The Sailors of the Proud by Henry Hathaway, The Secret Garden by Fred M. Wilcox, The jewels of my crown by Jacques Tourneur, Years of youth by William A. Wellman and Kim by Victor Saville.
His absence from film sets was only short-lived, since from the mid-1950s, alongside a busy audiovisual production schedule, Dean Stockwell would carefully choose his roles as tormented young adults. Thus, he had put his talent as an actor at the service of Arthur Hiller (The Thirsty for Love), Richard Fleischer (The Genius of Evil), Jack Cardiff (Lovers and sons), Sidney Lumet (Long journey into the night), John Guillermin (The flower of age) and Richard Rush (A psychedelic world).
As with many of his contemporaries, the 1970s amounted to a long desert crossing for Stockwell. Despite his collaboration with Dennis Hopper, behind the camera in The Last Movie and in front in Tracks by Henry Jaglom, and because of films as unmemorable as Washington werewolf by Milton Moses Ginsberg, Won Ton Ton The Dog Who Saved Hollywood by Michael Winner and slightly later Live murders by Richard Brooks.
In short, the star of Dean Stockwell, actor, seemed definitely extinct in the early 1980s. However, thanks to some magnificent supporting roles in films which were no less, he was able to give a new and finally last breath to his career. An unsuspected rebirth which then passed through Paris Texas by Wim Wenders – Palme d’or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984 -, Dune by David Lynch, Los Angeles Federal Police by William Friedkin, Blue Velvet by David Lynch, Stone gardens and Tucker The Man and his Dream by Francis Ford Coppola, Beverly Hills Cop 2 by Tony Scott and Widow but not too much by Jonathan Demme.
During the last twenty years of his filmography, Dean Stockwell had mainly returned to obscure productions. With the notable exception of Catchfire and The Infernal Escort by Dennis Hopper, The Player by Robert Altman, Air Force One by Wolfgang Petersen, The Idealist by Francis Ford Coppola and A crime in the head by Jonathan Demme.
Dean Stockwell was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1989 for Widow but not too much. This same film had also earned him, tied with his interpretation in Tucker The Man and his Dream, the New York Critics’ Award and the National Society of Film Critics. At the Cannes Film Festival, he received two collective male interpretation awards: the first in 1959 for The Genius of Evil alongside Bradford Dillman and Orson Welles, then the second three years later for Long journey into the night to share with Ralph Richardson and Jason Robards. Finally, his character in the series “Quantum Code” had earned him four consecutive Emmy nominations for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series between 1990 and ’93.
His first marriage, he was briefly married in the early sixties to actress Millie Perkins (The Diary of Anne Frank by George Stevens).
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Actor Dean Stockwell dies – Film Review