Dean Stockwell

The career of this prolific performer has come in several waves, each punctuated by a "retirement" from the screen. As a child actor under contract to MGM from 1945, Dean Stockwell charmed in "Anchors Aweigh" (1945), then specialized in "sensitive child" roles, such as Gregory Peck's son in "Gentleman's Agreement" (1947), who suffers the slings of anti-Semitism when his father decides to pose as a Jew to do a magazine article, and in the title character of Joseph Losey's "The Boy with Green Hair" (1948), which delved into a similar milieu of how people treat a stranger. After five years spent traveling around the USA and working at odd jobs, he matured into a strikingly attractive, introverted young adult lead, winning acclaim as the character based on Nathan Leopold in "Compulsion" first on stage (1957) and later the feature (1959). Stockwell also won acclaim for two characters that functioned as authorial stand-ins, Paul Morrel in Jack Cardiff filming of D.H. Lawrence's "Sons and Lovers" (1960) and Edmund Tyrone in Sidney Lumet's version of Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (1962). In the early 60s, Stockwell dropped out of showbiz and embraced a hippie lifestyle and retreated again in the mid-70s to pursue a career as a real-estate broker. He revitalized his screen career in the mid-80s, specializing in spooky and eccentric characterizations, such as the suavely perverse Ben in David Lynch's "Blue Velvet" (1986), the Mafia don Tony 'The Tiger' Russo in Jonathan Demme's "Married to the Mob" (1988), for which he earned an Oscar nomination, and a particularly eerie cameo as Howard Hughes in Francis Ford Coppola's "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" (1988). He has remained active in supporting roles in features like Robert Altman's "The Player" (1992), the uneven comedies "Mr. Wrong" (1996) and "McHale's Navy" (1997) and "Air Force One" (1997). Stockwell turned more and more to TV in the late 80s and early 90s. He had made his TV-movie debut in 1971 with "Paper Man" (CBS), but did not appear regularly on a series until "Quantum Leap" (NBC, 1989-1993), playing "boss" to the time-traveling Scott Bakula and earning several Emmy nominations for his work. Stockwell played the singer's father in "Madonna: Innocence Lost" (Fox, 1994), and co-starred in the ABC miniseries adaptation of "Stephen King's 'The Langoliers'" (1995). In 1990, he did the voice of Duke Nukem, an unsavory character on the TBS animated series "The New Adventures of Captain Planet" and later hosted "Popular Science" (The Learning Channel, 1997), based on the magazine. He was the son of actor Harry Stockwell (who provided the voice of Prince Charming in Disney's 1937 "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"), brother of actor Guy Stockwell and was formerly married to actress Millie Perkins. Dean Stockwell died on November 7, 2021 at the age of 85.