The character actor Michael Parks, whose career spanned film, television and music, died yesterday. Cause of death is not known at this time. He was 77.
Parks got his start in television, playing bit parts in shows like The Untouchables, The Real McCoys, Gunsmoke , Route 66, 77 Sunset Strip, Perry Mason and Ben Casey. His career in film started shortly after with 1965’s Wild Seed and Bus Reilly’s Back In Town.
In 1969, Parks was cast in the lead of Then Came Bronson, a NBC television about a disillusioned journalist travelling America via motorcycle in order to find himself. The show ran for 27 episodes from 1969 to 1970, and Parks sang the theme song, which became a hit on the Billboard charts, leading to a musical career for the actor. He would record five albums between 1969 and 1981.
By the late 1980’s Parks acting career had come to him appearing in B-movies like 1989’s Nightmare Beach and Caged Fury and in recurring roles on The Colbys and Twin Peaks. However, Parks had a number of fans in Hollywood who would help his film career undergo a resurgence.
Robert Rodriguez would cast him in the Quentin Tarantino scripted From Dusk till Dawn as Texas Ranger Earl McGraw. Parks would reprise the character four more times for Rodriguez and/or Tarantino in Kill Bill: Vol 1, Kill Bill: Vol 2, and in both installments of Grindhouse—Planet Terror and Death Proof. Tarantino would also cast him as a separate character in Kill Bill 2 and as a mining company employee in Django Unchained.
A heartfelt farewell to the one and only Michael Parks. A very kind man and a true legend. pic.twitter.com/OsKTfZFiS2
— Robert Rodriguez (@Rodriguez) May 10, 2017
This led to Parks appearing in a better quality of film, including The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Argo, where he played legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby in a brief role.
It also led him to a partnership with Kevin Smith, appearing as the villain in the writer/director’s films Red State and Tusk.
I hate to report that my cinematic muse #michaelparks has passed away. Michael was, and will likely forever remain, the best actor I've ever known. I wrote both #RedState and @tuskthemovie FOR Parks, I loved his acting so much. He was, hands-down, the most incredible thespian I ever had the pleasure to watch perform. And Parks brought out the absolute best in me every time he got near my set. From the moment I saw him steal the opening scene of #fromdusktildawn at an advance screening at the Sunset 5 back in the mid-90's, I said to @samosier "Could you imagine what it must be like to work with a Yoda of acting like that guy? I gotta write for him one day." It took me 15 years but my dream came true on Red State (for which Parks won Best Actor at the @sitgesfestival) and then again years later with #tusk. Only Michael Parks could have delivered the line "Is man indeed a walrus at heart?" and make it scary as fuck. My favorite memory of Michael is watching him and #johnnydepp act with and at each other, like a couple of dueling wizards, in their shared scene in Tusk. Parks was in Heaven that day, sharing the screen with another brilliant actor and creating an unforgettable performance. He elevated any flick or TV show he was in and elevated every director he ever acted for. I was so fucking blessed to have worked with this bonafide genius. But really, I was just lucky to have known him at all. My heart goes out to James (Michael's son), Oriana (Michael's wife), Quentin Tarantino (Michael's biggest fan) and any movie or music lover who was ever dazzled by the talents of Michael Parks. Farewell, old friend. I'll see you farther along… #KevinSmith #actor #genius #rip #walrusyes
Parks has five productions pending on IMDB, two of which are listed as complete or in post-production.