Actor John Heard, who starred in Cutter’s Way and played the dad in the Home Alone movies, has died at 71, Variety reports. He was recovering from back surgery in a hotel in Palo Alto, Califronia, where he was found dead in his room.
Heard was from Washington, D.C., and started acting off-Broadway before falling in with husband-and-wife producing and directing team Raphael D. Silver and Joan Micklin Silver. Joan directed him in 1977 newspaper drama Between the Lines, Raphael directed him in 1978 prison drama On the Yard, then Joan directed him again in 1979 romantic comedy Chilly Scenes of Winter. But it was his role as Cassio in a Shakespeare in the Park production of Othello in the summer of 1979 (Raul Julia played Othello against Richard Dreyfuss’ Iago) that got him cast as a paranoid Vietnam vet in Cutter’s Way, Ivan Passer’s 1981 adaptation of Newton Thornburg’s novel Cutter and Bone. It was one of his greatest performances; Jeff Bridges, his co-star in that film, mourned him on Twitter:
John Heard- what a wonderful actor. We were in the movie Cutter’s Way together & I got to experience his artistry and dedication first hand.— Jeff Bridges (@TheJeffBridges) July 22, 2017
My heart goes out to his family and loved ones. We miss & love you, John.— Jeff Bridges (@TheJeffBridges) July 22, 2017
In the 1980s, Heard had memorable roles in Cat People, Big, Beaches, and The Milagro Beanfield War, while also finding time to play the lead in cannibalistic-humanoid-underground-dweller extravaganza C.H.U.D. (though he wisely skipped the sequel). But he was perhaps best known to the public for his role as Macaulay Culkin’s character’s father in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. He transitioned from lead to supporting roles as the years went on, but gave a blistering late-career performance as crooked cop Vin Makazian on The Sopranos, for which he earned an Emmy nomination.
Heard was married three times, including a six-day marriage to actress Margot Kidder. He is survived by a daughter from his marriage to Sharon Heard—the couple also had a son who died earlier in December—and a son from a relationship with Melissa Leo. Asked about his career in 2008, Heard was ambivalent about its trajectory:
I guess I went from being a young leading man to being just kind of a hack actor ... I think I had my time. I dropped the ball, as my father would say. 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.