Fred Ward's publicist Ron Hofmann has confirmed that the popular actor died at 79 on May 8. No cause was given.
The virile 'n' versatile star of action flicks and quality drama was born onDecember 30, 1942, in San Diego. Working as a janitor, boxer and lumberjack, he served in the Air Force before heading to Italy and working with Roberto Rossellini (1906-1977).
After doing voice-over work, he made his film debut on Italian television in 1973.
Ward's U.S. film debut came in Hearts of the West (1975), but arguably his biggest break was in Clint Eastwood's (b. 1930) Escape from Alcatraz (1979).
He played heroic tough guys in Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982; first starring role in a feature), Uncommon Valor (1983), the cult-fave actioner Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985), and in the horror series Tremors (1990, 1996 sequel, aborted 2018 series).
Ward was equally adept at parts with more depth, including acclaimed performances in The Right Stuff (1983), Silkwood (1983), Henry and June (1990), The Player (1992), and Short Cuts (1993).
In 1990, he self-produced and appeared in the Alec Baldwin (b. 1958) vehicle Miami Blues, and excelled in the indie Two Small Bodies (1993).
Among his memorable turns in comedies were Big Business (1988) and Naked Gun 33-1/3: The Final Insult (1994).
Some of his later features included Sweet Home Alabama (2002) and 2 Guns (2013), and he was occasionally on TV, such as featured spots on ER (2006), Grey's Anatomy (2006), United States of Tara (2009), and True Detective (2015), after which he retired.
Ward's first two marriages ended in divorce.
He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward, and his son Django Ward.