Fred Ward, ‘The Right Stuff’ and ‘Short Cuts’ actor, dies aged 79

Ward, known for his work in ‘The Right Stuff’, ‘Short Cuts’ and numerous other films, died on May 8 at the age of 79.

A cause of death was not given.

Ward began acting in the early 1970s, after three years in the United States Air Force. Ward, a Renaissance man, also worked as a short-order cook, boxer, and worked as a logger in Alaska. His first major role came in the Clint Eastwood movie “Escape from Alcatraz” in 1979.

In “The Right Stuff”, Ward portrayed the real-life Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom. He switched to “Henry & June” and played chain-smoking, hard-drinking author Henry Miller, who travels to Paris in 1931 to finish his book “Tropic of Cancer.”

In 1988, Ward bought the film rights to “Miami Blues,” in which Ward played Hoke Mosely, a veteran Miami homicide detective trying to land a slick ex-con.

Ward later worked with Robert Altman in “The Player,” played a mobster in Alan Rudolph’s “Equinox,” and was a TV news anchor in Tim Robbins’ “Bob Roberts.” In 1993, he played one of three friends who find a body while fishing in “Short Cuts.”

“The unique thing about Fred Ward is that you never knew where he would appear, that’s how unpredictable his career choices were,” Hofmann said in an emailed statement.

Ward’s other movie titles include “Summer Catch,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” and “Abandon.” On television, Ward appeared in “The United States of Tara”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Leverage”, “True Detective” and among other series.

Also an artist, in recent years Ward has focused some of his creative talent on painting.

He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward and his son Django Ward.

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