Entertainment News: Dean Stockwell of Film ’Blue Velvet' & TV’s ‘Quantum Leap’ Dies at 85

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CHICAGO – In my one encounter with Dean Stockwell back in 2013, he was properly off-kilter and amazing, as you expect from Frank in “Blue Velvet.” But Stockwell was so much more, starting as a child actor in Hollywood’s Golden Age, morphing to the hippie era and getting a major comeback with David Lynch and TV’s Quantum Leap.” He died in New York City on November 7th, 2021, at age 85.

Robert Dean Stockwell was born in North Los Angeles, and because he was a child actor he worked in the Golden Age of the 1940s Hollywood studio system. His first major role came when he was 11 years old, playing opposite Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra in “Anchors Aweigh” (1945). He became the go-to child star in classics such as “The Boy with the Green Hair’ (1946), “Gentleman’s Agreement” (1947), “Song of the Thin Man” (1947) and “The Secret Garden” (1949), often with another child co-star (and “West Side Story” mainstay), Russ Tamblyn. He successfully transitioned into young adult roles in “Compulsion” (1959), “Sons and Lovers” (1960) and “Long Day’s Journey into Night” (1962).

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Dean Stockwell in Chicago, circa 2013
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com

After dropping out of show business within the 1960s counterculture, he worked infrequently into the 1970s, but staged a major revival in the 1980s with “Paris, Texas” (1984). “To Live and Die in L.A.” (1985), “Married to the Mob” (1988) – for which he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar – and most memorably as Ben, opposite old friend Dennis Hopper as Frank, in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” (1986). He capped his visibility opposite Scott Bakula on TV’s “Quantum Leap” (1989-93). He reunited in Bakula in a 2014 episode of “NCIs: New Orleans” and capped his career with a role in Rick Alverson’s Neil Hamburger film, “Entertainment.”

He died of natural causes, according to his agent, and was survived by his wife Joy and two children. Reflecting on his acting later in life he said, “I haven’t changed in the least. My way of working is the still the same that it was in the beginning … totally instinctive and intuitive.”

GO TO PAGE TWO for the HollywoodChicago.com 2013 interview with Dean Stockwell, by Patrick McDonald.

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