American actor Dean Stockwell was one of those rare phenomenons who entered the highly dangerous world of acting at the early age of seven and managed to build a career out of it which lasted more than 70 years. Sadly, Stockwell passed away in the early hours of November 7th. His family confirmed that the actor died due to natural causes.
Starting out on Broadway, Stockwell fashioned a career on the stage and became the primary earner of his family. With popular projects like Anchors Aweigh, Stockwell established himself as an actor of note but it put a strain on his sense of self. As he later acknowledged, the stress of maintaining a career at such an early age negatively impacted him.
In an interview, Stockwell once said: “I had to work in a high pressure situation with adults…my childhood went out the window. I didn’t have the freedom to play. I was the breadwinner – my mother was paid a salary as my guardian – that was a pressure situation. When I said to my mom, ‘I don’t want to do this’, she said, ‘We have to, we have no choice. We are under contract’… I had one vacation in nine years. I had no friends except for my brother. I never did what I wanted to do.”
This pressure made him take a break from acting for a number of years during which he attended UC Berkeley but he eventually dropped out, stating: “I was unhappy and could not get along with people.” Once he returned to the world of acting, many projects awaited him and he appeared on some of the most celebrated shows like The Twilight Zone and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Stockwell also picked up the Best Actor Award at Cannes for his work in the 1959 film adaptation of Compulsion.
In the latter half of his career, Stockwell managed to secure roles in some of the definitive masterpieces of the 20th century, ranging from Wim Wenders’ magnum opus Paris, Texas to David Lynch’s surreal neo-noir Blue Velvet. However, Stockwell’s most popular acting work came in sci-fi shows like Quantum Leap and Battlestar Galactica which are enjoyed by contemporary audiences to this day.
After retiring from the world of acting, Stockwell spent his later years focusing on making art. He toured around the country to attend exhibitions where his work was displayed, making sculptures and collage artworks. Stockwell is survived by his two children – Austin and Sophie as well as his wife Joy.