‘Slap Shot’ Legend Paul D’Amato Dead at 75

Paul D'Amato gained fame as "Dr Hook" in the cult classic "Slap Shot." (IMDB)

Paul D’Amato, most widely known for his role as the antagonist in the 1977 hockey comedy film Slap Shot, has died. He was 75.

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D’Amato passed away following a four-year battle with progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare brain disease, reports said.

Born in Worcester, Mass., D’Amato took to acting during high school and was a member of his college ice hockey team. He combined the two passions when he was cast in the role of goon Tim “Dr. Hook” McCracken in Slap Shot, the cult classic that starred Paul Newman.

D’Amato later would say that the role propelled him to a “tiny bit of fame.”

Following Slap Shot, he played in the made-for-TV hockey movie The Deadliest Season. He also had a brief appearance in The Deer Hunter, portraying a Green Beret who had just returned home from Vietnam and was confronted by Robert DeNiro and several friends in a bar.

According to Patch.com:

“After small parts in various films and television shows, including The Six Million Dollar Man, Heaven’s Gate and Heaven Can Wait, D’Amato was cast once more as a creepy villain in the 1987 film Suspect. Midway through the film, a knife-wielding Michael Guthridge threatens the lead character, played by Cher, before stabbing a character played by Dennis Quaid.

“Years later at the Enfield Athletic Hall of Fame celebrity golf tournament, D’Amato quipped, ‘I’m probably the only actor that ever beat up Paul Newman, almost beat up Robert DeNiro and held a knife to the throat of Cher.’

“Still, it was his role as Dr. Hook which remains etched in moviegoer’s minds, and led to countless appearances at benefit golf tournaments and other sports gatherings. He played in the Enfield tournament for about 10 years, which raised funds for scholarships. He was an active supporter of the Springfield Hockey Heritage Society, and made regular appearances at Hartford Whalers Alumni Weekend at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, a signature yearly event by the Hartford Yard Goats baseball club.”

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