Harry Dean Stanton
Jul. 14th, 1926
West Irvine, Kentucky, USA
Guest TV Roles
Prolific character actor with a drooping, weather-beaten appearance and superb acting talent that have been his ticket to appearing in over 100 films, and 50 TV episodes. Born in West Irvine, Kentucky, Stanton served in WW II, then returned to the University of Kentucky to appear in a production of "Pygmalion", before heading out to California and honing his craft at the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse. Stanton then toured around the US with a male choir, worked in children's theater, and then headed back to California. His first role onscreen was in the tepid Tomahawk Trail (1957), but he was quickly noticed and appeared regularly in minor roles as cowboys and soldiers through the late 1950s and early 1960s. His star continued to rise and he received better roles in which he could showcase his laid-back style, such as in Cool Hand Luke (1967), Kelly's Heroes (1970), Dillinger (1973), The Godfather: Part II (1974), and in Alien (1979). It was around this time that Stanton came to the attention of director Wim Wenders, who cast him in his finest role yet as Travis in the moving Paris, Texas (1984). Next indie director Alex Cox (I) gave Stanton a role that really brought him to the forefront, in the quirky cult film Repo Man (1984).
Stanton was now heavily in demand, and his unique look got him cast as everything from a suburban father in the mainstream Pretty in Pink (1986) to a soft-hearted, but ill-fated, private investigator in Wild at Heart (1990) and a crazy yet cunning scientist in Escape from New York (1981). Apart from his film performances, Stanton is also an accomplished musician, and "The Harry Dean Stanton Band" and their unique spin on mariachi music have been playing together for well over a decade. They have toured internationally to rave reviews. Stanton became a cult figure of cinema and music and when Deborah Harry (I) sang the lyric "I want to dance with Harry Dean..." in her 1990s hit "I Want That Man", she was talking about him.
As he moved into the time in his life when most other people would be calling it a day, Harry Dean Stanton has remained consistently active onscreen, most recently appearing in films including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), The Green Mile (1999) and The Man Who Cried (2000). A true gem amongst character actors, and with an onscreen presence capable of adding that something extra to any production.
- He fronts a band called "The Harry Dean Stanton Band" which regularly performs in the Los Angeles area. He sings and plays guitar. The band plays a mix of jazz, pop, and tex-mex styles. The band often plays in Hollywood at 'Jack's Sugar Shack'.
- Critic 'Roger Ebert' (qv) so admires him that he created the "Stanton-Walsh Rule," which states that "no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or 'M. Emmet Walsh' (qv) in a supporting role can be altogether bad." Ebert later admitted that _Dream a Little Dream (1989)_ (qv), in which Stanton appeared, was a "clear violation" of this rule.
- Prior to 1971, he was credited in films and on TV as Dean Stanton so as to avoid any confusion with character actor 'Harry Stanton' (qv), both of whom would appear together in a 1969 episode of _"Petticoat Junction" (1963)_ (qv).
- 1988: Member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival.
- Lived in Lexington, Kentucky and graduated from Lafayette Senior High School with the class of 1944.
- (20 January 1996) Was tied up and pistol-whipped at his home in L.A. after a robbery. The thieves then took off in the actors car, but were soon apprehended after the car was traced by a tracking device. Stanton suffered only minor injuries.
- The name of his musical group was originally "Harry Dean Stanton and the Repo Men".
- Was drafted into the Navy in World War II. He was in the Battle of Okinawa.