Actor Harry Dean Stanton dies aged 91

Harry Dean Stanton recently played the title role in Lucky.  Photo: MIFF
Harry Dean Stanton recently played the title role in Lucky. Photo: MIFF

An actor's actor, whose gaunt manner never sat easily in the commercial machine of Hollywood merry-go-round of pretty faces, Harry Dean Stanton has died, aged 91.

Stanton, a respected actor with an eclectic body of work which included Twin Peaks, Paris, Texas and Repo Man, died of natural causes.

Born in Irvine, Kentucky, in 1926, Stanton considered a career as a writer, studying journalism and radio.

Later he had to choose, he said, between being a singer or an actor. He chose the latter.

Harry Dean Stanton in one of his most acclaimed roles in Paris, Texas  Photo: Fairfax Media

Harry Dean Stanton in one of his most acclaimed roles in Paris, Texas Photo: Fairfax Media

Though Stanton has a number of high-profile credits to his name, notably films such as The Godfather Part II, Alien, Pretty In Pink and Cool Hand Luke, he is best known as an actor who worked extensively in independent cinema.

His most memorable roles are in smaller, edgier films, such as Cockfighter, Repo Man and Escape from New York.

He also memorably played the army recruiter responsible for tricking Judy Benjamin (Goldie Hawn) into joining the army in the hit Private Benjamin.

As a performer, he became a favourite of certain directors, notably David Lynch, appearing in 1992's Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.

Stanton reprised that role, Carl Rodd, in the recent reboot of Twin Peaks.

Among his earliest roles was an uncredited part in the iconic 1962 western How The West Was Won.

He also worked extensively in television in the 1950s and 1960s, with roles in programs such as The Rifleman, Johnny Ringo, The Texan, Bonanza and The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.

After decades working as a character actor, he broke through to stardom with a role in the Wim Wenders film Paris, Texas in 1984.

In 2012, he appeared in a documentary about his career, Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction.

Aside from the reboot of Twin Peaks, his most recent roles included the short film The Pimp and the Rose, and the HBO television series Getting On.

His final role, the lead in the film Lucky, saw him working alongside David Lynch, in a rare acting performance, as well as Ed Begley Jr and Tom Skerritt.

The film will be released on September 29.

Stanton never married; according to reports he is survived by several children.

- The Age