Veteran film and television actor Fred Ward, 79, best known for playing tough-guy roles in movies like Tremors, Escape from Alcatraz, and The Right Stuff, died Sunday, his publicist said Friday.
His publicist, Ron Hofmann, said the cause and place of death have not been released, at the request of his family.
Ward took a roundabout path to act, after serving three years in the US Air Force in the 1960s and then working as an Alaskan lumberjack, a boxer (where he broke his nose three times), and a cook. small-time, according to a biography provided by Hofmann.
His career spanned more than four decades, beginning with foreign films in the early 1970s and lasting until 2015 with his final role in the television series True Detective, according to his IMDB page.
He made his first appearance in American cinema playing a cowboy in the 1975 film, Hearts of the West. But his biggest role came when he starred opposite Clint Eastwood in the 1979 film Escape from Alcatraz.
“The unique thing about Fred Ward is that you never knew where he was going to appear, so unpredictable was his career choices,” the statement said.
He played everything from an astronaut, a cowboy, a Vietnam War soldier, a chain-smoking police detective turned killer, to a hero battling giant worms, according to the release.
In 1983 he played Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom in Tom Wolfe’s adaptation of the book The Right Stuff. That same year he appeared in the action film Uncommon Valor with Gene Hackman and in the drama Silkwood with Meryl Streep.
Ward won a Golden Globe and the Venice Film Festival ensemble award for his performance in Short Cuts in 1993, according to his biography.
He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward, and a son, Django Ward.