Sad news for horror fans today as Tremors star Fred Ward has died at the age of 79. Variety broke the news on their website.

Fred Ward’s Extensive Career

Born on December 30th, 1942, in San Diego, California, Fred Ward was an actor who exuded a tough but equally charming persona. The actor was known for playing a tough guy and a charmer across nearly 80 projects in his acting career.

He started in the 1973 TV miniseries The Age of Medici, where he played Niccolò de’ Conti. He would make appearances in other film and television projects, such as his appearance in 1979’s Escape from Alcatraz with Clint Eastwood and a couple of appearances on The Incredible Hulk (1979).

Fred Ward’s breakout role would be in 1983’s The Right Stuff, where he played Mercury 7 program member Gus Grissom. From there, he would continue to appear in higher-profile projects while also taking on odder roles, keeping audiences guessing. One such wacky film would be the sci-fi comedy UFOria where he starred alongside Cindy Williams and Harry Dean Stanton.

Ward was no stranger to horror either, stirring as Det. Harry Philip Lovecraft in the 1991 TV movie Cast a Deadly Spell, a Lovecraftian horror comedy directed by Martin Campbell. The film would feature David Warner and Julian Moore.

Fred Ward in Tremors

Tremors (1990) would be one of Ward’s most important contributions to horror, helping to launch a hilarious and scary series of movies about giant subterranean “grabboids” menacing desert towns.

Fred Ward played Earl Bass in the Ron Underwood-directed film. Ward would play opposite Kevin Bacon’s Valentine as the two rough and tumble heroes helped fight off the giant terror worms. The film also featured Michael Gross, Reba McEntire, and Victor Wong.

Ward would reprise his role as Earl bass in the direct-to-video Tremors II: Aftershocks (1996).

Details on Fred Ward’s Passing

Fred Ward leaves behind a long legacy of film appearances and critical praise. Ward was known for projects such as The Player, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, Miami Blues, and Short Cuts. Most recently, he played Eddie Velcoro in HBO’s True Detective in 2015.

According to his publicist, Fred Ward passed away on May 8th, as confirmed by Variety. Ward is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward, and his son Django Ward. Hinting at the cause of death, the Variety article includes that “[d]onations may be made to the Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center.”

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About the Author

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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