‘The Right Stuff’ Star Fred Ward Dead At 79

Actor Fred Ward Q&A during the 36th Telluride Film Festival held at the Galaxy Theatre on September 4, 2009 in Telluride, Colorado
(Photo credit: Michael Caulfied/Staff/Getty Images)

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.

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. 

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