Actor Fred Ward has died, according to his publicist, Ron Hofmann.
The actor, who played gentlemanly gruffness in films such as The Right Stuff, Henry and June, and The Player, died on May 8 at 79. There was no mention of a cause of death.
Ward brought reservoirs of sensitivity and street authenticity to his tough-guy performances. Ward, a former boxer, lumberjack, and short-order chef who served in the United States Air Force, went to acting school and started as a mime and voice-over actor when he relocated to Rome as a young man.
This resulted in a few TV appearances by Italian neorealist pioneer Roberto Rossellini. Ward made his American film début in 1979 as an inmate with Clint Eastwood in Escape from Alcatraz.
“The unusual thing about Fred Ward was that you never knew where he would crop up because his job choices were so unpredictable,” Hofmann noted in an email.
“He could play Remo Williams, a cop trained by Chiun, Master of Sinanju (Joel Grey), to become an unstoppable assassin in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, or Earl Bass, who battles giant, worm-like monsters hungry for human flesh in the cult horror/comedy film Tremors (1990), or a detective in the indie film Two Small Bodies (1993) directed by underground filmmaker Beth B., or a
Ward is survived by his 27-year-old wife, Marie-France Ward, and their son, Django Ward.