David Alexander Hess was born in New York City in 1942. He began his professional career as a songwriter for Shalimar Music, in 1957, under the pseudonym of David Hill. His first recording was a quick hit, which was later performed by and credited to Elvis Presley, "All Shook Up."
David went on to compose "Start Movin'" for Sal Mineo and "Rockin' Shoes" for the The Ames Brothers. He continued to write songs for Elvis throughout the 1950s and 1960s, including "Frankie and Johnny," "Come Along," "Make Me Know You're Mine" (first performed by Conway Twitty), "Sand Castles" and "Blue Lagoon." "Your Hand, Your Heart, Your Love" became a 1960s hit when it was performed by Andy Williams. In 1963 David wrote and recorded "Speedy Gonzalez," which became a #1 single for Pat Boone, selling more than eight million copies worldwide. David then recorded two solo albums for Kapp Records, again topping the charts, this time with a Top Ten folk hit called "Two Brothers."
In 1969 he became head of A&R at Mercury Records in New York. There he linked up with Western classical composer John Corigliano, and together they wrote the Grammy award-winning rock opera "The Naked Carmen", which became a big hit of the Berlin Ballet Week in 1970. David's work with Mercury also included "And the Children Toll the Passing of the Day," a 1969 album he wrote for Irish actor Malachy McCourt.
In 1972 his career split off into several new directions with his starring role in the Wes Craven horror classic The Last House on the Left (1972), for which he also composed the soundtrack. He went on to score Buck ai confini del cielo (1991), a children's film based on a collection of Jack London stories. It won the top prize for film and direction at the Giffone Film Festival. A subsequent job offer from PolyGram Records' German affiliate gave David the opportunity to move to Munich, Germany, and a multilingual career in film dubbing from 1972 to 1976, which in turn led him to write the English-language shooting scripts for such German greats as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Reinhard Hauff and his present collaborator, Peter Schamoni.
His ability to switch seamlessly from in front of the camera to the production team earned him the opportunity to direct his first American feature film, To All a Goodnight (1980), for Media Home Entertainment in 1980. He also appeared in two low-budget horror films directed by Ruggero Deodato, House on the Edge of the Park (1980) and Camping del terrore (1986).
In 1991 he played the part of the American in Peter Schamoni's Max Ernst: Mein Vagabundieren - Meine Unruhe (1991). From 1993 to 1995 he produced Niki de Saint Phalle (1996).
David's newest musical accomplishments include the release of two recent albums, "Caught Up In The Moment" and "Live & Unplugged in Hollywood, 2002." He currently lives in Southern California, just outside of Los Angeles, with his wife, with whom he has three children, and is currently working on several tracks for the upcoming horror feature, Cabin Fever (2002), directed by Eli Roth.
|Karoline Mardeck||(? - 8 October 2011) (his death) 3 children|
Often portrays pyschotic homicidal maniacs
In the late '50s, Hess had a stab (no pun intended) at a pop-music career under the name David Hill. Two of his Kapp Records singles, "Two Brothers" and "Living Doll" (a cover of the Cliff Richard hit) scraped into the Hot 100 in 1959.
He was awarded the 2007 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actor in a Principal Role in a Musical for "Shenandoah" at the Marriott Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
Father of Jesse Hess.
[on his first love] I'd say the music. That's my essence. I always tell people, "Don't make me choose because you won't get me in any more films!" Of course, that's not realistic because nobody forces you to choose ... you choose yourself. Essentially, I'm a musician. Always have been. When that darkness comes, I always resort to music to try and get myself back into a positive state of mind. That's not to say making films, writing or acting isn't important to me. It's very important because it's another way of telling people how I feel and who I am.
I've never personally played a character for audience sympathy. I've always tried to bring a slice of realism to the character that shows they're like everybody else, but just happen to kill people sometimes.
[on being a guest at horror conventions] I love doing them. Maybe other people don't. I just think if you're not in touch with your fans, why bother? I mean, it's a job but it's not a job. I can't do that many of them though. I try to limit my appearances to maybe four or five a year if that sounds right. When you're on screen and you're depicting something, you're influencing a lot of people. So it's very important if you're influencing them in a way that can be negative, that you go out there and show the positive side of you. The convention circuit is a good way to get out there and meet and greet your fans and say thank you. And at the same time, pick up a little pocket money if you're not working. So it works on both ends.
My style of acting is to go over the edge during rehearsal -- to push it as far as I possibly can, just to see how far I can go. And I set my parameters from there.
(February 2002) Alive and well and living in Northern California. Making personal appearances for his new album, "Caught Up In The Moment."
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