Quantum Leap Star Dies at 85

Dean Stockwell had a career that spanned 8 decades
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2021 9:25 AM CST

He kicked off his acting career on Broadway at the age of 7. More than seven decades later, Dean Stockwell had racked up hundreds of stage, screen, and TV credits, Oscar and Emmy nominations, and the reputation of a "cult indie character actor who refused to fit in," per the Guardian. On Sunday, the 85-year-old Quantum Leap actor (full name Robert Dean Stockwell) died of natural causes at his home, a family rep confirmed to Deadline.

Stockwell, born in 1936, and his older brother, Guy Stockwell, performed in 1943's The Innocent Voyage on Broadway, which soon led to a contract with MGM for Dean Stockwell. He next starred on the big screen in The Valley of Decision with Gregory Peck and Anchors Aweigh with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, followed by the controversial, racially themed The Boy With Green Hair in 1948. He enjoyed a return to Broadway in Compulsion, a late-'50s play based on the Leopold and Loeb case and co-starring Roddy McDowall, and then starred in the film version of it.

He went on to starring roles in 1960's Sons and Lovers and 1962's A Long Day's Journey Into Night with Katharine Hepburn, though he almost decided to ditch acting in the early '80s to become a real estate agent—until he got a phone call from Harry Dean Stanton convincing him to take a part in Paris, Texas. That led to a series of roles in such movies as Blue Velvet, Dune, The Player, and The Rainmaker. Stockwell also had a turn on the new Battlestar Galactica as character John Cavil, or Number One, from 2006 to 2009.

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But perhaps his best-known role was as Admiral Al Calavicci on NBC's Quantum Leap sci-fi series, for which he received four Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe win. For five seasons in the late '80s and early '90s, Stockwell's Calavicci was the "womanizing, larger than life" foil to Scott Bakula's Dr. Sam Beckett, per Variety. Stockwell also received an Oscar nod for his turn as mobster Tony "the Tiger" Russo in 1988's Married to the Mob. Stockwell is survived by his wife, Joy Stockwell, a son, and a daughter. Enjoy this mashup of some classic Stockwell moments. (More celebrity death stories.)

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