Fred Ward, ‘The Right Stuff’ actor, dies aged 79

Fred Ward, a veteran film and television actor, has died, according to Ron Hofmann.

Ward, known for his work on “The Right Stuff”, “Short Cuts” and many other films, passed away on May 8 at the age of 79.

No cause of death has been given.

Ward began acting in the early 1970s, after three years of service in the United States Air Force. A renaissance man, Ward has also worked as a short order chef, a boxer, and a lumberjack in Alaska. His first major role was in Clint Eastwood’s “Escape from Alcatraz” in 1979.

In “The Right Stuff”, Ward gave a real-life portrayal of Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom. He diverged in “Henry & June,” playing heavy drinker, cigarette smoker author Henry Miller, who went to Paris in 1931 to finish his book “Tropical.”

In 1988, Ward purchased the film rights to “Miami Blues”, introducing Ward as Hoke Mosely, a veteran Miami detective trying to track down a former con man.

Ward later joined forces with Robert Altman in “The Player”, played a gangster in Alan Rudolph’s “Equinox” and was a TV news host in Tim Robbins’ “Bob Roberts”. In 1993, he played one of three friends who found a dead body while fishing in the movie “Short Cuts”.

“What’s unique about Fred Ward is that you never know where he’ll show up, so his career choices are unpredictable,” Hofmann said in an emailed statement.

Some of Ward’s other film credits include “Summer Catch,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” and “Abandon.” On television, Ward has appeared in “The United States of Tara”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Leverage”, “True Detective” and among other series.

Also an artist, in recent years Ward has channeled some of his creative talents into painting.

He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward, and their son Django Ward.

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