Veteran actor Fred Ward, 79, has died

  • Veteran film and television actor Fred Ward, 79, has died.
  • No cause or place of death was released, as per his family's wishes, the actor's publicist, Ron Hofmann said.
  • Kevin Bacon on Friday afternoon honoured his Tremors co-star on Twitter, along with many fellow actors mourning his death.

Veteran film and television actor Fred Ward, 79, best known for playing gruff, tough-guy roles in movies such as TremorsEscape from Alcatraz, and The Right Stuff, has died.

"I am sad to announce the passing of acclaimed actor Fred Ward, who passed away on Sunday, May 8, 2022 at age 79," the statement revealed.

No cause or place of death was released, as per his family's wishes, the actor's publicist, Ron Hofmann said.

Ward took a roundabout way into acting, after serving three years in the US Air Force in the 1960s and then working as an Alaskan lumberjack, a boxer where his nose was broken three times and a short-order cook, according to a biography provided by Hofmann.

His career spanned more than four decades, starting with foreign films in the early 1970s and stretched through 2015 with his final role in the television series True Detective as Eddie Velcoro, the retired cop father of Colin Farrell’s Det. Ray Velcoro, according to his online IMDb page.

He made his first American film appearance playing a cowboy in the 1975 film, Hearts of the West. But his breakthrough role came when he played opposite Clint Eastwood in the 1979 film Escape from Alcatraz.

"The unique thing about Fred Ward is that you never knew where he was going to pop up, so unpredictable were his career choices," the release said.

He played everything from an astronaut, cowboy, Vietnam war soldier, a chain-smoking police detective-turned-assassin, to a hero battling giant worms, the release said.

In 1983 he portrayed Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil "Gus" Grissom in the adaptation of Tom Wolfe's book, The Right Stuff. That same year he appeared in the action movie Uncommon Valor with Gene Hackman and in the drama Silkwood with Meryl Streep.

Kevin Bacon on Friday afternoon honoured his Tremors co-star on Twitter.

"So sad to hear about Fred Ward. When it came to battling underground worms, I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. 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."

Bacon and Ward starred together in the 1990 cult classic. The Universal Pictures monster suspense film was a box office bomb, but over the years gained a massive fan base for its silliness, action and wit. 

Ward won a Golden Globe and the Venice Film Festival ensemble prize for his performance in Short Cuts in 1993, his biography said.

Reese Witherspoon who co-starred with Ward in the 2002 film Sweet Home Alabama, also paid tribute to the actor on Twitter, saying, "So sad to hear about Fred Ward passing. He was a wonderful man who brought so much joy to every part he played. He will be deeply missed."

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


With additional reporting by Bronwyn McKay.

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