'Right Stuff,' 'Tremors' actor Fred Ward dies at 79

Photo courtesy of Pixnio
Photo courtesy of Pixnio

May 13 (UPI) -- Actor Fred Ward died Sunday at age 79. Ward's publicist confirmed the news to trades Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Indiewire on Friday.

Ward served in the U.S. Air Force and became an actor in the '70s. He was part of the Golden Globe Award-winning ensemble cast of 1994's Short Cuts.


With 89 credits, Ward had many memorable roles including that of astronaut Gus Grissom in the 1983 film The Right Stuff. In other biographies, Ward played author Henry Miller in Henry & June and prisoner John Anglin in Escape from Alcatraz.

Ward also played the fictional character Morgan in Silkwood, the true story of Karen Silkwood (Meryl Streep) who blew the whistle on radiation coverups at a nuclear plant.

Horror fans loved Ward as Earl Bassett, Kevin Bacon's partner in Tremors. Ward reprised the role in one of the film's many sequels, and a 2018 pilot that never went to series.

Ward played the title character in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, based on Richard Sapir's Destroyer novels. He played Lily Tomlin's love interest in Big Business, a bad guy in Naked Gun 33 ⅓ and a cop in Miami Blues, chief of security for a movie studio in The Player, David Spade's dad in Joe Dirt and Reese Witherspoon's dad in Sweet Home Alabama.


Ward's last role on screen was in Season 2 of True Detective. According to Indiewire, Ward spent his last years painting.

Ward is survived by his wife, Marie-France, and son, Django.

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Anita Pointer
Anita Pointer of the Grammy-winning Pointer Sisters stands with Andy Madadian (C) and La Toya Jackson (L) as Madadian is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2020. Pointer, who performed alongside her sisters June and Ruth, died at the age of 74 on December 31 following a battle with cancer. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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