It has been reported that actor and musician Harry Dean Stanton has passed away at the age of 91.
That is a large and respectable number of years, especially considering a life filled with drinking and smoking and living however you want.
But a loss like this hurts, nevertheless. I don’t care who you are, Harry Dean Stanton has been a part of our culture for so long, and in so many wide-ranging projects, that everyone from young Marvel fans to fellow 91-year-olds who refuse to watch anything but Westerns know his face.
I don’t have to list the majors. You already know them. Besides, I would be here all day. IMDB has him at 199 credited roles. I bet it’s more than that. Just think about all the movies you know him from. It’s incredible.
But I will mention one, a film I recommend above all others if you need something to help absorb this - the documentary Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction. The film is quiet and humble. At 75 minutes long, it doesn’t take much of your time. And, to be honest, it only offers a surface look at Stanton. That’s not to say it lacks depth, but he's not the kind of guy willing to whine or go on and on about himself. His most expressive moments are the frequent musical breaks in which we marvel as Stanton sings to us, to us alone it often feels.
(It's available to stream, but as far as I can see, you'll have to rent it. That's a small price to pay, though.)
We’re going to feel the loss of Harry Dean Stanton. Even in his old age, he never stopped working. But the good news is this massive and iconic body of work he left behind. As long as we keep watching movies, we’re almost sure to see him somewhere.