‘The Right Stuff’ and ‘Short Cuts’ actor Fred Ward dies at 79

Ward, known for his work in “The Right Stuff,” “Short Cuts” and numerous other films, died May 8 at age 79.

No cause of death was given.

Ward began playing in the early 1970s after three years in the US Air Force. A Renaissance man, Ward also worked as a short-lived cook, boxer, and worked as a lumberjack in Alaska. Her first major role came in the Clint Eastwood film “Escape from Alcatraz” in 1979.

Fred Ward in the movie

In “The Right Stuff”, Ward portrayed real-life Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom. He switched gears in “Henry & June,” playing smoking and drinking author Henry Miller, who travels to Paris in 1931 to finish his book “Tropic of Cancer.”

In 1988, Ward bought the rights to the movie “Miami Blues,” which featured Ward as Hoke Mosely, a veteran Miami detective trying to lock up a slick ex-con.

Ward then teamed up with Robert Altman in “The Player,” played a mobster in Alan Rudolph’s “Equinox,” and was a TV news anchor in Tim Robbins’ “Bob Roberts.” In 1993, he played one of three friends who found a corpse while fishing in “Short Cuts”.

“The unique thing about Fred Ward is that you never knew where he was going to show up, his career choices were so unpredictable,” Hofmann said in an emailed statement.

Some of Ward’s other credits include “Summer Catch”, “Sweet Home Alabama”, and “Abandon”. On television, Ward has appeared in “The United States of Tara”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Leverage”, “True Detective” and among other series.

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

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

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