According to TMZ, actor John Heard was found dead in a hotel in California yesterday. He was 72 years old. While he recently had minor surgery on his back, the cause of death at this time is unclear.
John Matthew Heard Jr. was born in Washington D.C. in 1945, where his father worked for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and his mother acted in local community theaters. He started his career in New York theater before moving on to film and television with several made-for-TV-movies as well as feature films in the late seventies. In 1979 his success really began – playing Reverend Arthur Dimmsdale in a made-for-TV version of The Scarlet Letter and the male lead in the romantic comedy Head Over Heels – which was re-released in 1982 with the title Chilly Scenes in Winter.
In the early eighties Heard guest starred in several of the most popular TV shows of the time – including Kate & Allie, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Tales from the Darkside, and Miami Vice. His movie career also moved forward and he established himself in the horror genre with roles in films such as Cat People and C.H.U.D. In the late eighties, he moved on to more comedic roles, playing Tom Hanks romantic rival in Big and Bette Midler’s husband in Beaches.
It was in 1990 that Heard played his most iconic role, that of overwhelmed father Peter McCallister in Home Alone. The movie is one of the biggest of all time – adjusted for inflation it is domestically the most financially successful Christmas movie ever and made a superstar out of child actor Macauley Culkin. Heard – along with the rest of the main cast – reprised their roles for the sequel two years later.
Hard starred in numerous films following Home Alone, including Awakenings, Radio Flyer, The Pelican Brief, and My Fellow Americans. He also continued to make TV appearances, showing up in episodes of The Outer Limits, Touched by an Angel, Battlestar Galactica, and four total episodes of the first three series in the Law & Order franchise. He even had recurring roles on The Sopranos, CSI Miami, and Prison Break.
Heard continued to make movies, though in recent years he was probably best known for his continued guest starring roles on TV. After a significant part in the first Sharknado film he popped up in episodes of Person of Interest, Modern Family, and CSI. Just last year he played the stepfather of Dr. Watson on an episode of Elementary.
Hurt leaves behind three children and a legacy of nearly 200 roles in film and television. His loss is a blow to the entertainment world and he will be remembered fondly.
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