Dean Stockwell, great face of ‘indie’ cinema in titles such as ‘Blue Velvet’ or ‘Paris, Texas’, dies at 85

Harry Dean Stanton, Dennis Hopper, Dean Stockwell … stony faces, proud of their wrinkles, that marked the cinema indie classic american. Little by little these creators have passed away, and the last one has been Stockwell, who died sleeping on Sunday the 7th on his ranch in Taos (New Mexico) at the age of 85. Stockwell will be remembered for Blue velvet; Paris, Texas; Dune; Married to all (with which he was an Oscar nominee), or the series Through time, but also because he managed to go beyond the category of child actor to become a classic during his seven decades in operation. His name appeared right at the end of WWII in The valley of destiny, with Gregory Peck, and in the musical Lifting anchors, and since then he has worked in both film and television. His only Golden Globe was obtained in 1990 as a secondary for the series Through time, and on two occasions he won the award for best actor in Cannes, in awards that rewarded the entire cast of Criminal impulse (1959) and Long journey into the night (1962).

Stockwell was predestined for acting. He was born in Hollywood in 1936 and grew up between Los Angeles and New York because his father was an actor and lyrical singer: he worked in musicals such as Oklahoma! O Carousel, and voiced the prince in the Disney movie Snow White. Just when his father was on Broadway with Oklahoma!, her mother heard there was an open audition for the play Innocent Voyage, by Paul Osborne, and brought his two sons (the eldest, Guy, also made a career as an actor). Both ended up debuting in the theater, and Dean, in addition, obtained a contract in MGM.

That is why, less than a decade old, Stockwell has already appeared in Lifting anchors, and little by little his appearances on the screen grew in size: The invisible barrier, Shadows in the sea, Stars in my crown, The Secret Heart, and, finally, his first leading role, The boy with green hair (1948), an antidiscrimination allegation by Joseph Losey. Two years later, he played another great children’s character, the one that gives the film its name Kim from India, with Errol Flynn.

Meanwhile, he continued studying and spent a year at the University of Berkeley (California), which he left tired of his classmates. He dedicated himself to composing and only returned to acting in 1956, now as an adult actor. In 1959 Stockwell appeared in Criminal impulse, by Richard Fleischer, giving life with Bradford Dillman to two law students accused of murder, a re-enactment of a true event that has fueled several films throughout Hollywood history (Compulsion, Rope, Murder … 1-2-3).

In the following decade Stockwell worked mainly in television (he has died accumulating more than 200 appearances between cinema and small screen), although he worked in Long journey into the night (1962), by Sidney Lumet. He preferred to immerse himself in the culture hippy In search of new experiences, where he met other creators such as Neil Young, and that is why he was prepared when the old Hollywood exploded, that of the studios, because of the success of the counterculture Easy Rider. With his friend Dennis Hopper as director and actor Stockwell acted in The Last Movie, and with Hopper as a partner he would repeat in Footprints (1976). However, he was unable to earn enough money and moved to Taos, where he combined acting with another profession: real estate salesman.

In 1984 he started what he himself defined as his “third stage” of his career thanks to his appearance as Walt, the brother of the protagonist Travis in Paris, Texas, by Wim Wenders, and Dune, by David Lynch. He thus chained films like Live and die in Los Angeles, Blue Velvet (he was awesome like Ben when he sings In Dreams with the microphone with light), Stone gardens and Married to everyone With which he got an Oscar nomination as the mobster Tony Tiger Russo. In that same year, 1988, it was Howard Hughes in another Coppola drama, Tucker, the man and his dream, and the next he started in the series Through time.

Stockwell continued to work until he had a stroke in 2015. Among his most prominent works in the 1990s and 21st century are The Hollywood Game, Air Force One O Legitimate defense, and on television in I: Alert Red, Star Trek: Enterprise and Battlestar Galactica, while he was engaged in sculpture in New Mexico. His last appearances were an episode of NCSI: New Orleans, that reunited him with Scott Bakula, his partner Through time, and the movie Entertainment, a strange reflection on the world of comedians.

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Dean Stockwell, great face of ‘indie’ cinema in titles such as ‘Blue Velvet’ or ‘Paris, Texas’, dies at 85