Superstar actor Fred Ward, known for his roles in such hits as “The Right Stuff” and “Tremors” has died, per his publicist. He was 79.
The producer and actor, who was a staple of the small and big screen throughout most of the last few decades, passed away on May 8, reported CNN in a piece published Friday. No cause of death was given.
The veteran actor is probably best known for two of his biggest roles. First, as astronaut Gus Grissom in the 1983 movie “The Right Stuff,” about the real-life story of America’s early space program.
“The U.S. space program’s development from the breaking of the sound barrier to selection of the Mercury 7 astronauts, from a group of test pilots with a more seat-of-the-pants approach than the program’s more cautious engineers preferred,” a description of the film reads on IMDb.
His second well-known role was in Ron Underwood’s 1990 horror-comedy “Tremors,” about giant worms living underground and killing people in a small desert town in Nevada. In that movie, Ward plays handyman Earl Bassett alongside Kevin Bacon and Reba McEntire as the three fight to survive and destroy the monstrous creatures.
“As the handymen, Bacon and Ward make a good team,” The Washington Post wrote in its review of the movie. “Ward, who didn’t quite cut it as superhero Remo Williams, has the rugged looks and good humor of a friendly desperado, while Bacon continues to move beyond his glamour-boy roots and prove himself as an actor.”
“The unique thing about Fred Ward is that you never knew where he was going to pop up, so unpredictable were his career choices,” Ward’s publicist said in a statement.
Some of his more recent credits include his memorable roles in films like “Sweet Home Alabama” and television series such as “The United States of Tara,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “True Detective,” among many others.
Following news of his death, fellow stars and movie makers reacted to the news, sharing tributes to the late star about how much he will be missed.
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. pic.twitter.com/WLOB0iVwkd
— Kevin Bacon (@kevinbacon) May 13, 2022
Farewell to Fred Ward who gifted us with so many rugged, funny and relatable characters throughout his career and always had charm to burn. Loved him in ‘Tremors’, ‘Miami Blues’, ‘The Right Stuff’, ‘The Player’, ‘Southern Comfort’ and more. RIP and thanks for all the movies x pic.twitter.com/i7fWmzYzc1
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) May 13, 2022
Fred Ward was so amazing in everything but the way he delivers the line, “I guess we can’t make fun of Burt’s lifestyle anymore” is pure poetry. #RIPFredWard pic.twitter.com/owEq9ujQm2
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) May 13, 2022
Devastated to learn about the passing of my friend, Fred Ward. I had the absolute pleasure of working with this wonderful man in Robert Altman’s Shortcuts and Alan Rudolph’s Equinox. A tough facade covering emotions as deep as a the Pacific Ocean. Godspeed amigo. ❤️💛🙏🏽✌🏽 pic.twitter.com/IRdPrDPrac
— Matthew Modine (@MatthewModine) May 13, 2022
Fred Ward has always been an underrated part of any project he’s done. Growing up as I did on Tremors I only had eyes for Kevin Bacon’s Val but in my adulthood I realized that Ward’s Earl is the real secret sauce and heart of what I consider a perfect perfect movie. Rest easy. pic.twitter.com/4Z1mRx06pm
— Joanna Robinson (@jowrotethis) May 13, 2022
Rest In Peace Fred Ward. Real good human. ❤️
— Freddie Prinze Jr (@RealFPJr) May 13, 2022
Fred Ward was one of the most authentic actors ever. He could turn a fun, cheesy sci-fi movie into an instant classic, because he was so darn believable. Put him in a real classic like MIAMI BLUES and he was an instant film noir legend. What an actor! #RIPFredWard https://t.co/FpzlFZwhq7
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) May 13, 2022
He is survived by Marie-France Ward, who he was married to for 27 years, and his son Django Ward.
This is a breaking news story. Refresh the page for updates.
RELATED: Gilbert Gottfried Dead At 67