Titan of Stage and Film Has Passed Away at the Age of 88

(UnitedVoice.com) – Actor M. Emmett Walsh has died, aged 88. While not a household name, Walsh was one of the most prolific US actors, appearing in hundreds of movies and TV shows in a career that lasted over 50 years. He died just three days before his 89th birthday.

Michael Emmett Walsh was born in Ogdensburg, New York, on March 22, 1935, and then brought up in Vermont. His family had no acting tradition; his father and grandfather were customs agents, and Walsh’s brother followed their example. However, Walsh studied business administration at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY, and while he was there, he got involved in amateur theater. When he graduated in 1958, a faculty adviser suggested he take acting further. He took that advice, enrolling at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and becoming a theater actor.

In 1969, Walsh made his first appearance on Broadway in “Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?” The star of the play was Al Pacino. The same year, he played a small role in the comedy movie “Alice’s Restaurant,” launching a career that eventually saw him appear in an estimated 119 movies and over 250 TV shows. Highlights included parts in popular shows “Starsky and Hutch,” “Bonanza” and “The Waltons,” and films like “Midnight Cowboy,” “The Gambler,” “Serpico” and, perhaps most of all, Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic “Bladerunner.”

Described as a “portly and prolific” character actor, Walsh was seen as a capable and reliable choice for small, but important, roles. He knew it, too; he once said that if a director was casting a movie and had 12 problems, “if they’ve got me, they only have 11 problems.” He always rejected the idea of trying to be a star and loved the variety of roles he got as a character actor — but always a different character; he said he wanted to be “a garbage collector in one movie and a governor in the next.”

Walsh died of a cardiac arrest in St Albans, Vermont. He left no surviving relatives.

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