Harry Dean Stanton, star of countless classic films, dies age 91

Hollywood veteran Harry Dean Stanton has died age 91, with tributes pouring in for the actor from other film legends.

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The tall, lean actor with the memorably gaunt face was still working, with a new movie, Lucky, due for release in the US later this month.

Stanton worked as an actor for more than 60 years, first hitting the limelight when he starred in the 1966 western Ride the Whirlwind, and followed up with appearances in cult classics Cool Hand Luke, The Godfather Part II, Alien, Repo ManPretty in Pink, The Green Mile and many others.

With more than 100 film credits, Stanton was directed by every big name in the business, from Alfred Hitchcock to John Huston, David Lynch and Ridley Scott, as well as being close friends with Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson.

But he didn’t play a leading man until he was 54, when he was cast by Wim Wenders in 1984’s critically acclaimed Paris, Texas. The movie won awards, and Stanton’s performance was lauded. His skills as an actor came to be so well-regarded that the powerful film critic Roger Ebert once reportedly said, “No movie featuring Harry Dean Stanton can be altogether bad”.

He also appeared in hit TV series such as Big Love, and many westerns including Pork Chop Hill in 1959 with Gregory Peck.

Celebrities mourned his passing, with Lynch saying that there was no one like Stanton.

“Everyone loved him. And with good reason. He was a great actor (actually beyond great) – and a great human being – so great to be around him!!!”, Lynch said, the Hollywood Reporter tweeted.

Author Stephen King, whose book Christine and story ‘The Green Mile’, were made into movies starring Stanton, called the actor “great”, while Olivia Wilde, the actress who appeared with Stanton in Alpha Dogs, recalled that he was the “definition of cool”.

“He wouldn’t leave a room without saying ‘love ya, mean it’,” she tweeted.

Stanton was born in the US state of  Kentucky and served in the navy in World War II before becoming an actor. He did not marry but once said he had “one or two” children. When not acting, he was a keen musician, singing and playing the harmonica, and was good friends with Bob Dylan.

He died of natural causes in a hospital in Los Angeles, his agent said, according to an NPR report.

Asked by Lynch in the 2012 documentary Partly Fiction how he wanted to be remembered answered succinctly. “Doesn’t matter,” Stanton said.

Do you recall seeing Harry Dean Stanton in a movie?