Monday, July 24, 2017

John Heard, 1945(?)-2017, R.I.P.

Prolific actor John Heard has died from as-yet-unknown causes at the age of either seventy-one or seventy-two, depending on which source you believe. I've seen dozens of articles listing one age or the other. Even Wikipedia lists his birth year as 1946 here, and as 1945 here!

Sometime during the 1980s or 1990s, well after his career had taken off, I saw Mr. Heard in a then-new TV commercial. (I can't remember the product he was advertising, and a half-hour search on the internet, YouTube in particular, didn't tell me. Sorry.) In that commercial, Heard introduced himself in the name of the character he was portraying, a storekeeper, IIRC. But in response to his "I'm [so-and-so]," I sat there thinking "No, you're not! You're John Heard!" To me, he was far too well-known to endorse a product on television as anyone but himself.

Every so often, I would think that it would be nice if I someday met the man, so I could remind him about that commercial, and my amused reaction to it.

(And would it surprise any of my regular readers if I told you that I was thinking that just the other day? And would it surprise you if I told you that only three or four weeks ago, I watched him in 1982's Cat People, in which he played a rare romantic lead? You know what I mean, right?)

Heard was never a huge star, instead being one of those actors who kinda blends into a movie to the point where you see information about the film and say "Oh, that's right, I forgot he was in that!" I had to refer to his IMDb entry just to remind myself about movies I've seen in which he appeared, as I was compiling photos for this post. For example, I had forgotten that he was in 1991's Rambling Rose with Robert Duvall and Laura Dern (the latter of which he had no actual scenes with), in which he played the character of "Buddy" as an adult. I also forgot that he had a small role as Tom the Bartender in 1985's quirky After Hours.

Usually, when a celebrity is discussed in print, mention is made of his or her best-known role, movie, TV show, or other project.  Unfortunately, I keep seeing that John Heard was Peter McAllister in 1990's Home Alone and its 1992 sequel. Out of his entire damned career, he has to be remembered mainly for that?

Well, let me state a few things right here and now. I never saw Home Alone. I never wanted to see Home Alone. I never plan to see Home Alone. I will not include any photos from Home Alone in today's post. And if you leave a comment on this post telling me how much you loved Home Alone, I may leave a nasty reply for you. (Okay, okay, I wouldn't really do that last one...)

Now that that's out of my system...

I will, however, include several photos from just a few of his many, many other movies and television appearances.

Before I throw a bunch of images at you, I just want to add that I don't think I ever saw a John Heard film in the theater! I always got to see them on VHS or DVD, months or even years after their release. But I always enjoyed his work.

With his Cat People co-star, the lovely Natassja Kinski, as well as
David Bowie (who sang the film's theme song), and director Paul Scrader.

With James Gandolfini in The Sopranos. Heard received an Emmy
nomination for his five-episode role as Detective Vin Makazian.

With Geraldine Page in 1985's The Trip to Bountiful, in which Heard played Ludie Watts.
Not pictured is actress Carlin Glynn, who played Ludie's all-out bitch of a wife!

With Mary Beth Hurt and Peter (Animal House) Riegert in Head Over Heels,
re-released a few years later with a different ending as Chilly Scenes of Winter!

Heard had a small but hilarious (and important!) part as Dan Quayle-ish
Vice President Ted Matthews in My Fellow Americans, 1996.

As Jack Kerouac in 1980's Heart Beat, with Sissy Spacek and Nick Nolte. I've yet to see this film,
and definitely want to, but have never come across it nor had the presence of mind to look for it online!

As John Pierce in 1988's Beaches, with Bette Midler -- Nice ears, Ms. Midler! -- and Barbara Hershey.

As Tom the Bartender in Martin Scorsese's After Hours.

Oh, and just for the record? I never saw him in 1988's Big, either! But not because I've avoided that film. Just never saw it!

He was married and divorced three times, including his first marriage to actress Margot Kidder. Their marriage lasted six days!

Heard was somewhat self-deprecating in a 2008 interview in which he stated "I guess I went from being a young leading man to being just kind of a hack actor," and "I think I could have done more with my career than I did, and I sort of got sidetracked. But that's OK, that's all right, that's the way it is. No sour grapes. I mean, I don't have any regrets. Except that I could have played some bigger parts."

Maybe he could have played some bigger parts if he had done some things differently, but as far as being a "hack actor?" Sorry, I don't buy it.

Thanks for your time.


  1. I liked this guy! and yed I liked home alone :) :)

    1. I have absolutely no interest in seeing Home Alone, despite the fact that a few actors whom I like were in it, in addition to John Heard. Catherine O'Hara, Daniel Stern, Joe Pesci...

  2. Oh. So you gave him your infamous kiss of death. I think I liked him best in Big, which is a very funny movie. He was good in The Sopranos, too. I don't like Home Alone. We went to see it because our kids were young and everyone said what a great family movie it was. I beg to differ. The members of that family were so nasty to each other. It bothered me a lot.


    1. I'll have to take your word for that, since I'll never see it.

  3. My Fellow Americans is a great movie. That's the first thought I had when I saw he died.(Dan Aykroyd is the only main lead still left alive in that movie) He did almost nothing in Home Alone, so yeah, kinda dumb to remember him for that. Also saw them say he was 71 and others 72, weird.

    Oh, and Home Alone was soooooo great. How can you not see it? Shame on you. You should go binge watch all 5 of them now. Nasty comment worthy?

    1. Five?!? There were five of the suckers?!? (I just looked it up, cuz I was hoping you were kidding!)

      I really enjoyed My Fellow Americans. One of my favorite lines is near the very end, when Heard's character mispronounces "facade" while telling everyone how smart he really is.

  4. lol yep, I saw the fifth one on Netflix last year, never knew it existed before that.

    I remember that line, must have really stuck out for you.

    1. Ohhhh, yeah! I laughed really hard at that one.


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