Fred Ward, Star of ‘The Right Stuff,’ ‘Tremors,’ Dies at 79

Actor Fred Ward died May 8, his publicist confirmed to Variety. He was 79.

No cause of death was given.

Ward was known for his roles in Henry and June, Tremors, The Right Stuff and The Player.

The best description we’ve seen of Ward and his acting style comes from Variety:

“There was a certain retro quality to the actor’s persona that made Ward seem more akin to Humphrey Bogart or John Garfield (although not quite with those actors’ level of charisma) than to his contemporaries, and it did not seem at all affected. He appeared to be the sort of fellow who hailed from the South Side of Chicago or Hell’s Kitchen, but he was actually from San Diego.”

Ward had numerous guest appearances on NBC’s ER as the father of Maura Tierney’s Abby Lockhart in 2006-2007. He also guested on many other series, including Grey’s Anatomy and United States of Tara.


In one of his last roles, he recently appeared in the second season of HBO’s “True Detective” as Eddie Velcoro, the retired cop father of Colin Farrell’s Det. Ray Velcoro.

For readers who are a bit longer in the tooth, you might remember Ward for his appearance in the Clint Eastwood classic Escape from Alcatraz – it was Ward’s U.S. movie debut.

He got his start when he moved to Rome, Italy as a young man and worked as a mime, then he became a voice-over actor.

Ward is of part Cherokee descent. Before acting, he spent three years in the United States Air Force. He was also a boxer (breaking his nose three times) and worked as a lumberjack in Alaska. He studied acting at New York’s Herbert Berghof Studio after serving in the Air Force.

Ward was married three times and had one child.

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