Fred Ward, ‘The Right Stuff’ and ‘Short Cuts’ Actor, Dies at 79

Ward, known for his work on “The Right Stuff,” “Shortcuts,” and many other films, died on May 8 at the age of 79.

No cause of death was given.

Ward began operations in the early 1970s after serving three years in the U.S. Air Force. A Renaissance man, Ward also worked as a short-term cook, boxer, and as a lumberjack in Alaska. His first major role was in the 1979 Clint Eastwood film Escape from Alcatraz.

In “The Right Stuff,” Ward portrayed real-life Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Gleason. He switched gears in “Henry and Joan” to play the smoking, alcoholic author Henry Miller, who traveled to Paris in 1931 to finish his book “The Tropic of Cancer.”

In 1988, Ward bought the film rights to “Miami Blues,” in which Ward played Hoke Mosely, a veteran Miami detective trying to keep a wily ex-convict in captivity.

Ward later starred in “The Player” with Robert Otterman, played the gangster in Alan Rudolph’s “Equivalent,” and was a TV news anchor in Tim Robbins’ “Bob Roberts.” . In 1993, he played one of three friends who found a body while fishing in “Shortcuts.”

“Fred Ward is unique in that you never know where he’ll turn up and his career choices are so unpredictable,” Hoffman said in an emailed statement.

Some of Ward’s other film credits include “Summer Catch,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” and “Abandonment.” On television, Ward has appeared in series such as “Tara’s America,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Leverage,” “True Detective,” and more​​​.

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

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

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