Hollywood is mourning after the death of one of its greatest legends, Dean Stockwell. The actor who began working during Hollywood’s Golden Age died this past Sunday at the age of 85. According to his family’s rep, he passed peacefully at home of natural causes.
Stockwell was mostly recognized for his role in the successful television series Quantum Leap, but throughout his career, of over seven decades, the actor played iconic roles as well as working with some of the most renowned filmmakers of the industry including David Lynch, Jonathan Demme, and Francis Ford Coppola.
Dean Stockwell was born in Los Angeles in 1936 to Harry Stockwell (an actor known for voicing Prince Charming in Disney’s Snow White) and Nina Olivette, a vaudeville performer. Both Dean and his brother Guy started their acting careers as children on Broadway.
Dean Stockwell debuted on Broadway in 1943 in The Innocent Voyage at the age of seven. His performance got him some attention in Hollywood and by 1945 he had already signed a contract with MGM to make his first movie, The Valley of Decision, and that same year Anchors Aweigh alongside Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly.
[Frank Sinatra and Dean Stockwell in ‘Anchors Aweigh.’ IMAGE: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios]
In 1947, at 11 years old, Stockwell got his first Golden Globe nomination and award for his role in Gentleman’s Agreement starring Gene Kelly.
Dean Stockwell never stopped working and his growth and evolution were seen onscreen. As a young adult, Stockwell went back to Broadway with the play Compulsion which eventually was made on film with Stockwell reprising his role. His performance won him the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival demonstrating that his career had transitioned from a child and teen actor to a serious adult.
In the eighties, Stockwell worked in two movies with the renowned filmmaker David Lynch. First in 1984 in the infamous Dune where he played Dr. Yueh, and in 1986 in the legendary film Blue Velvet. Also in 1984, he got great critics for his role of Walt Henderson in Paris Texas.
In 1988, his career reached another major milestone when he was nominated to an Oscar as a supporting actor for his work in Jonathan Demme’s comedy Married to the Mob in which he shared the screen with Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Modine.
[Dean Stockwell and Scott Bakula in ‘Quantum Leap’. IMAGE: NBC]
The next year he would start the project that won him the hearts of millions of fans around the world, Quantum Leap. In the series, which ran from 1989 to 1993, Stockwell played Admiral ‘Al’ Calavicci, a character that earned him four Emmy and one Golden Globe nominations. In 1992 he received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
From 2004 to 2009 he played Brother Cavil in the revival of the popular Sci Fi series Battlestar Galactica. Thanks to his participations in this series and Quantum Leap Stockwell would often be seen at conventions.
Retirement and artistic phase
At the age of 80, in 2015, Dean Stockwell announced his retirement from showbusiness ad devoted his last years to art, another of his great passions. From then on, Stockwell started focused on making art and exhibiting it throughout the US in galleries and exhibitions under his full name, Robert Dean Stockwell.
His wife Joy Stockwell and their two children Austin and Sophie Stockwell, are being joined by the industry to mourn and celebrate the great life of Hollywood’s legend Dean Stockwell.
Cover photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios