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M. Emmet Walsh Dies: Prolific Actor In ‘Blade Runner’, ‘Ordinary People’, Coen Brothers Pics & Hundreds More Was 88

By Erik Pedersen

M. Emmet Walsh, the familiar character actor in Blade Runner, Blood Simple, Best Picture Oscar winner Ordinary PeopleKnives Out, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Slap Shot and more than 200 other films and TV shows spanning a half-century, died Tuesday, his rep said. He was 88.

Walsh himself is quoted as saying: “I approach each job thinking it might be my last, so it better be the best work possible. I want to be remembered as a working actor. I’m being paid for what I’d do for nothing.”

Born on March 22, 1935, in Ogdensburg, NY, Walsh was raised in rural Vermont. He began his screen career guesting on late-1960s TV series before landing bit parts in films including Alice’s Restaurant, Little Big Man and Escape from the Planet of the Apes. He continued to guest-star in episodes of popular 1960s and ’70s series including Bonanza, All in the Family, Ironside, The Bob Newhart Show, McMillan & Wife, The Rockford Files, The Waltons, Starsky and Hutch, James at 16, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and many more.

He also appeared on the big screen in such ’70s hits as Serpico, The Jerk, They Might Be Giants, Straight Time, What’s Up, Doc? and Slap Shot, in which he played sportswriter Dickie Dunn, who was “Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing.”

He continued to work regularly into the 1980s up to the 2020s, appearing in popular pics including the Coen brothers’ 1984 debut Blood Simple, for which won the inaugural Independent Spirit Award, and their sophomore feature Raising Arizona (1987). He also appeared in the Robert Redford prison drama Brubaker (1980), Academy Award winner Ordinary People (1980), Best Picture Oscar nominee Reds (1981), Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner (1982), Chevy Chase comedy Fletch (1985), horror pic Critters (1986) and more.

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