Veteran film and television actor Fred Ward, 79, best known for playing gruff, tough-guy roles in movies such as “Tremors,” “Escape from Alcatraz,” and “The Right Stuff,” died on Sunday, his publicist said on Friday.
No cause or place of death was released, as per his family’s wishes, publicist Ron Hofmann said.
Ward took a roundabout way into acting, after serving three years in the U.S. 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.
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.”
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.
He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward, and a son, Django Ward.