Fred Ward, the veteran actor known for roles in a variety of projects including The Right Stuff and Tremors, died at 79 on May 8. His publicist confirmed the news to Variety. No cause of death was given. Ward was mourned by several actors, including former Tremors co-star Kevin Bacon, who starred as Valentine McKee alongside Ward’s Earl Bassett. “When it came to battling underground worms I couldn’t have asked for a better partner,” Bacon tweeted on May 13. “I will always remember chatting about his love of Django Reinhardt and jazz guitar during our long hot days in the high desert. Rest In Peace Fred.”
Born in San Diego in 1942, Ward served in the United States Air Force for three years before he began studying acting at New York’s Herbert Berghof Studio. He later moved to Italy, where he found work dubbing movies in English and appearing in some of director Roberto Rossellini’s films. But it wasn’t until Ward returned to the United States that he got his first major role, a part in Clint Eastwood’s 1979 movie Escape From Alcatraz. From there, Ward’s filmography continued to blossom. He went on to star in a range of movies including Southern Comfort, Miami Blues, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, The Prince of Pennsylvania, Henry & June, and Short Cuts. His TV credits include roles on ER, Grey’s Anatomy, The United States of Tara, and Leverage. Most recently, he played Eddie Velcoro on the second season of HBO’s True Detective.
According to CBS News, Ward dedicated time to painting during the final years of his life. Ward, who reportedly asked that any tributes to him be made as donations to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center, is survived by his wife Marie-France Ward and his son Django Ward.