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Harry Dean Stanton Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Trivia (12) | Personal Quotes (18)

Overview (2)

Date of Birth 14 July 1926West Irvine, Kentucky, USA
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Prolific character actor Harry Dean Stanton's drooping, weather-beaten appearance and superb acting talent have been his ticket to appearing in over 100 films, and 50 TV episodes.

Stanton was born in West Irvine, Kentucky, to Ersel (Moberly), a cook, and Sheridan Harry Stanton, a barber and tobacco farmer. Stanton served as a cook in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and was on board an LST during the Battle of Okinawa. He then returned to the University of Kentucky to appear in a production of "Pygmalion", before heading out to California and honing his craft at the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse. Stanton then toured around the United States with a male choir, worked in children's theater, and then headed back to California. His first role on screen was in the tepid movie Tomahawk Trail (1957), but he was quickly noticed and appeared regularly in minor roles as cowboys and soldiers through the late 1950s and early 1960s. His star continued to rise and he received better roles in which he could showcase his laid-back style, such as in Cool Hand Luke (1967), Kelly's Heroes (1970), Dillinger (1973), The Godfather: Part II (1974), and in Alien (1979). It was around this time that Stanton came to the attention of director Wim Wenders, who cast him in his finest role yet as Travis in the moving Paris, Texas (1984). Next indie director Alex Cox gave Stanton a role that really brought him to the forefront, in the quirky cult film Repo Man (1984).

Stanton was now heavily in demand, and his unique look got him cast as everything from a suburban father in the mainstream Pretty in Pink (1986) to a soft-hearted, but ill-fated, private investigator in Wild at Heart (1990) and a crazy yet cunning scientist in Escape from New York (1981). Apart from his film performances, Stanton is also an accomplished musician, and "The Harry Dean Stanton Band" and their unique spin on mariachi music have been playing together for well over a decade. They have toured internationally to rave reviews. Stanton became a cult figure of cinema and music and when Deborah Harry sang the lyric "I want to dance with Harry Dean..." in her 1990s hit "I Want That Man", she was talking about him.

As he moved into the time in his life when most other people would be calling it a day, Harry Dean Stanton has remained consistently active on screen, most recently appearing in films including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), The Green Mile (1999) and The Man Who Cried (2000). A true gem amongst character actors, and with an on screen presence capable of adding that something extra to any production.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: firehouse44

Trivia (12)

He fronts a band called "The Harry Dean Stanton Band" which regularly performs in the Los Angeles area. He sings and plays guitar. The band plays a mix of jazz, pop, and tex-mex styles. The band often plays in Hollywood at 'Jack's Sugar Shack'.
Prior to 1971, he was credited in films and on TV as Dean Stanton so as to avoid any confusion with character actor Harry Stanton, both of whom would appear together in a 1969 episode of Petticoat Junction (1963). Harry Dean Stanton later co-starred in The Green Mile (1999), which has a character named Dean Stanton.
The name of his musical group was originally "Harry Dean Stanton and the Repo Men".
Was tied up and pistol-whipped at his home in L.A. after a robbery. The thieves then took off in the actor's car, but were soon apprehended after the car was traced by a tracking device. Stanton suffered only minor injuries. [January 1996]
Lived in Lexington, Kentucky and graduated from Lafayette Senior High School with the class of 1944.
Was Best Man at the wedding of Jack Nicholson and Sandra Knight. After their divorce, Nicholson lived for a time with Stanton.
Had a small role as a jail guard in the 1978 Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong film Up in Smoke (1978), but his scenes were cut.
Critic Roger Ebert so admires him that he created the "Stanton-Walsh Rule," which states that "no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad." Ebert later admitted that Dream a Little Dream (1989), in which Stanton appeared, was a "clear violation" of this rule.
1988: Member of the jury at the Venice Film Festival.
Was drafted into the Navy in World War II. He was in the Battle of Okinawa.
Stanton has been named as a favorite actor by characters in novels by Elmore Leonard. Skip Gibbs, a serial bomber in the novel Freaky Deaky, watches Straight Time (1978) because Stanton is his favorite actor. Two characters in Leonard's novel Maximum Bob chat about how much the novel's title character resembles Stanton, an actor they both admire. Stanton did not appear in the Maximum Bob (1998) TV series, but did have a role in The Big Bounce (2004), also based on an Elmore Leonard novel.
As of 2014, has appeared in three films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: How the West Was Won (1962), The Godfather: Part II (1974) and The Green Mile (1999). Of those, only The Godfather: Part II (1974) won in the category.

Personal Quotes (18)

I've been rather like a cat. I'm finicky and I've done a lot of things, and made career choices, missed meetings and so forth that would have made me a much bigger actor, I think. But, by the same token, that would have demanded more of my time, too.
[on his role in Paris, Texas (1984)] The whole film evolved on a very organic level. It almost had a documentary feel to it. It wasn't odd to be in the lead, I took the same approach as I would to any other part. I play myself as totally as I possibly can. My own Harry Dean Stanton act . . . I don't know whatever happened to Travis. I'd say . . . it's me. Still searching for liberation, or enlightenment, for lack of a better way to put it, and realizing that it might happen, it might not.
I've always been a singer; it's not new to me. I've been singing since I was a child. I've always had a guitar and a harmonica and I played drums in high school -- in a marching band, anyway. I like different kinds of music and I'm exploring them: ballads, blues, blues-rock, country rock, whatever. I'm just focusing on singing a lot so I can get good at it. But don't say I play "country music." It's just another label, like "character actor." One term simply can't say it all.
I'm a late bloomer. It's just a matter of how you evolve; of what your pace is. Hopefully, the older you get the more you grow. So, that has been my speed, the beat of my drum. I march to the beat of a different drum -- you'll pardon me for using this expression.
Early on the whole point of acting was mostly getting a job and then the experience of doing it. But when I did Ride in the Whirlwind (1966) with Jack Nicholson in 1965 I discovered there was more to it than that. It was a key film for me because of that. Jack told me not to do anything, just let the wardrobe do the acting. It was a great revelation that became an acting principle. To be rather than to do. You have to behave on screen as much as you do in real life. You don't kill anyone in life, but you understand the anger that may bring it about.
I felt very much at home on the stage, more so than off it because I could express everything that I couldn't express elsewhere -- yes, anger, but also tenderness. It's not always easy to be as gentle as you wish to be.
As a child, I felt rage against adults who didn't treat me as a person, adults that were brutalized themselves by having an angry, vindictive God watching them all the time. I come from a broken home and I realize it's the rule rather than the exception.
Hopefully it's a life positive thing that I've been been blessed to be balled into for a lack of a better way to put it. I find younger people less conditioned and therefore more alive. I don't take a paternal or authority position with them; I don't play mentor. I try to relate to them on a peer level. I'm trying to function totally in the moment.
It's certainly not an ideal situation. I don't want to be whipping myself to the point where I have no joy in doing it, you know? But that has been a problem with too many artists -- too much pain and not enough joy. I want to be able to work and enjoy it more and it takes a lifetime to learn that. I'm enjoying it more and more; I'm learning that. Someone printed on a Thai temple, "How joyous I am now that I've learned there's no such thing as happiness." Pretty good, huh?
Acting is my connection to the community, with the world at large. I hope what I do benefits the community without being moralizing.
I've always felt as an outsider. I've been rebellious against any iconoclastic thing. It's true about the industry, but also about society as a whole. I don't blame anyone, but I think that society is negative in that people are terrified to be free. I was born on the edge of the mountains in Kentucky and now although I live in Hollywood I still feel more related to nature. It's an attitude. I have a pool, but it's to do laps in, not a status symbol.
Usually, I just play myself. Whatever psychological traumas or conflicts I'm going through at the time I try to put into the role. Sometimes it's quite a feat to pull off, but sometimes it works. If it doesn't correspond to the dilemmas of the character, then I don't do the film.
[on his disdain for labels] When you label something, you dismiss it.
Ultimately the atomic physicists--[Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, [Martin Heisenberg]--all agreed that science couldn't answer the mystery of the universe. So I was impressed with all that. Once it gets organized--even if it's Buddhism or Taoism or Kabbalah--I'm not a member. Einstein said Buddhism was the only religion that could cope with modern scientific needs. So they arrived at the same place the Buddhists did 2,500 years ago. There's no answer to any of it. That's liberating. It's an enlightening concept.
I learn about myself. There is no self. You learn you're not a self. You learn you're nothing. Ultimately. Hopefully.
When you're deep asleep and not dreaming, where the fuck are you? There's total blackness, it's nothing, right? So I'm hoping that's what death is, that it's all gonna go. I don't want to deal with any consciousness afterward.
[asked to describe himself] As nothing. There is no self...I'm big into Eastern concepts. The horror of life, the love of children, the whole phantasmagoria--it's all meaningless. Be still and see what happens. All of this unfolds perfectly, You've got to get beyond consciousness.
You get older. In the end, you end up accepting everything in your life -- suffering, horror, love, loss, hate -- all of it. It's all a movie anyway, the whole phantasmagoria -- it's all meaningless. There is no answer to any of it ultimately. It's just what is. There is only the moment. Be still and see what happens. All of this unfolds perfectly. You've got to get beyond consciousness.

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