Harry Dean Stanton was an American actor, musician and singer. Stanton's career spanned over fifty years, which has seen him appearing in such films as Paris, Texas, Kelly's Heroes, Dillinger, Alien, Repo Man, Pretty in Pink, The Last Temptation of Christ, Wild at Heart, The Green Mile, and The Pledge. In the late 2000s, he played a recurring role in the HBO television series Big Love. In 2012, he had a brief cameo in the superhero blockbuster The Avengers.
Alien franchise credit
- The Wrong Man (1956) - Department of Corrections Employee (uncredited)
- Tomahawk Trail (1957) - Pvt. Miller
- The Proud Rebel (1958) - Jeb Burleigh
- Pork Chop Hill (1959) - U.S. Soldier with BAR (uncredited)
- How the West Was Won (1962) - Gant Henchman (uncredited)
- Ride in the Whirlwind (1965) - Blind Dick
- A Time for Killing (1967) - Sgt. Dan Way
- The Hostage (1967) - Sgt. Dan Way
- Cool Hand Luke (1967) - Tramp
- Day of the Evil Gun (1968) - Sergeant Parker
- The Mini-Skirt Mob (1968) - Spook
- Kelly's Heroes (1970) - Pvt. Willard
- Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) - Oklahoma Hitchhiker
- Cisco Pike (1972) - Jesse Dupre
- Dillinger (1973) - Homer Van Meter
- The Godfather Part II (1974) - F. B. I. Man #1
- Farewell My Lovely (1975) - Det. Billy Rolfe
- Straight Time (1978) - Jerry Schue
- Alien (1979) - Brett
- Escape from New York (1981) - Brain
- Repo Man (1984) - Bud
- Twister (1989) - Cleveland
- The Fourth War (1990) - Gen. Hackworth
- Man Trouble (1992) - Redmond Layls
- Blue Tiger (1994) - Smith
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) - Judge
- The Man Who Cried (2000) - Felix Perlman
- Anger Management (2003) Blind Man (uncredited)
- Alien Autopsy (2006) - Harvey
- The Good Life (2008) - Gus
- Rango (2011) - Balthazar
- This Must Be the Place (2011) - Robert Plath
- The Avengers (2012) - Security Guard
- Seven Psychopaths (2012) - Quaker
- Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (2012) - Himself (documentary)
- 9 Full Moons (2013) - Dimitri
- The Last Stand (2013) - Farmer Parsons (uncredited)
- The Pimp and the Rose (2014) - Harry (short film)
- Lucky (2017) - Lucky
Stanton was born in West Irvine, Kentucky, the son of Ersel (née Moberly), a hair dresser, and Sheridan Harry Stanton, a tobacco farmer and barber. His parents divorced when Stanton was in high school and later remarried. He has two younger brothers, Archie and Ralph, and a younger half-brother, Stan. Stanton attended the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky, where he studied journalism and radio arts. He also studied at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California, where his classmates included his friends Tyler MacDuff and Dana Andrews.
Stanton is a US Navy veteran of World War II. He served as a cook aboard an LST during the Battle of Okinawa.
Stanton has appeared in indie and cult films (Two-Lane Blacktop, Cockfighter, Escape from New York, Repo Man), as well as many mainstream Hollywood productions, including Cool Hand Luke, The Godfather Part II, Alien, Red Dawn, Pretty in Pink, Stephen King's Christine and The Green Mile. He has been a favorite actor of Sam Peckinpah, John Milius, David Lynch, and Monte Hellman, and is also close friends with Francis Ford Coppola. He appears as a complaining BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) Man (uncredited) in the very beginning of the Gregory Peck film Pork Chop Hill in 1959. He had a very small part in 1962's How The West Was Won as one of Charlie Gant's gang.
His breakthrough part came with the lead role in director Wim Wenders' film Paris, Texas. Playwright Sam Shepard, the movie's screenwriter had spotted Stanton at a Santa Fe, New Mexico, bar in 1983 while both were attending a film festival in that city, and the two fell into conversation. "I was telling him I was sick of the roles I was playing," Stanton recalled in a 1986 interviews. "I told him I wanted to play something of some beauty or sensitivity. I had no inkling he was considering me for the lead in his movie." Not long afterward, Shepard phoned him in Los Angeles to offer Stanton the part of protagonist Travis, "a role that called for the actor to remain largely silent ... as a lost, broken soul trying put his life back together and reunite with his estranged family after having vanished years earlier."
Stanton is a favorite of film critic Roger Ebert who has said that "no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad." However, Ebert later admitted that Dream a Little Dream, in which Stanton appeared, was a "clear violation" of this rule.
His television credits are extensive, including eight appearances between 1958 and 1968 on CBS' Gunsmoke and four on the same network's Rawhide, as well as a cameo as himself on Two and a Half Men (having previously appeared with Jon Cryer in Pretty in Pink and with Charlie Sheen in Red Dawn), and alongside Sean Penn and Elvis Costello. He has been featured since 2006 as Roman Grant, the manipulative leader/prophet of a polygamous sect in the HBO television series Big Love. He also played 'Henry' in the television series Adam-12, Season 1, Episode 26 "Log 22: So This Little Guy Goes ...". He shows up around 9:52.
Stanton has also occasionally toured nightclubs as a singer/guitarist, playing mostly country-inflected cover tunes. He appeared in the Dwight Yoakam music video for "Sorry You Asked", portrayed a cantina owner in a Ry Cooder video for "Get Rhythm", participated in the video for Bob Dylan's "Dreamin' of You", and in 2003, appeared in the video for "Stop" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in 2003.
Harry Dean Stanton passed away at Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles on September 15, 2017 at the age of 91.