It is almost impossible to be a fan of many cult classic movies and not know, or at least not recognize, veteran actor Harry Dean Stanton. From his humble roots in rural Kentucky, Stanton went on to have a part in many big films popular today. Stanton was always a welcome face for many fans, and he was “that guy” that instantly added a touch of quality to anything he was in. Even film critic Roger Ebert was a fan of his work, as he defined his “Stanton Walsh Rule”:
No movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad.
From his memorable roles as the singing convict in “Cool Hand Luke” to his lead performance in “Paris, Texas”, Stanton played a variety of characters. But it was his forays into Science Fiction that I remember best, being part of the ill-fated Nostromo crew in “Alien” and Brian in John Carpenter’s “Escape From New York”, for starters.
Through it all, Stanton’s humble beginnings stayed with him and kept him grounded. As he told the Observer in an interview about his life and many roles in film and TV,
In the end, you end up accepting everything in your life – suffering, horror, love, loss, hate – all of it. It’s all a movie anyway.
Even though Harry Dean Stanton died September 15, 2017 at the age of 91, I think a part of me will still half-expect him to show in movies in the future. While that is probably not going to happen, it would certainly be welcome. And that is probably his greatest legacy.
Thank you for entertaining us, Harry Dean Stanton.