Remembering Dean Stockwell (1936-2021)

Dean Stockwell, the Oscar and Emmy-nominated actor, has passed away at the age of 85. He had a long and fruitful career, on both stage and screen. But most genre fans know him from his role as Admiral Al Calavicci on the time travel series Quantum Leap, playing opposite Scott Bakula. The series ran for four seasons, from 1989-1993. It was one of the most popular science fiction shows of the ’90s. And it has a tremendous cult following to this day.

Before that, he had a prominent role in a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone. He also appeared as Brother Cavil on the 2004 version of Battlestar Galactica. He also played the adult version of Robin (Tim Drake) in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Other prominent genre roles include parts on Star Trek: Enterprise, Stargate: SG-1, and Captain Planet, where he voiced Duke Nukem (not the video game character). For the past several decades, Stockwell was a fixture and sci-fi conventions, where he was always happy to mingle with fans.

Dean Stockwell and Scott Bakula as they appeared on the 1989-1993 series Quantum Leap.
NBC Universal Television

In the early ’80s, he came into David Lynch’s orbit. He landed a role in the original version of Dune, playing Wellington Yueh. This led to his part as Ben in Lynch’s follow-up film, Blue Velvet. Although he only had roughly ten minutes of screen time, it’s one of the most memorable performances in the entire Lynch filmography. Although Dennis Hopper is the outwardly violent and “loud” character in the film, Ben’s sinister nature was concealed behind his suave exterior.

Dean Stockwell as Ben in David Lynch's Blue Velvet.
De Laurentiis Entertainment Group

Stockwell started acting as a child, having been born into a showbiz family. His father was the voice of the Prince in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. A film that came out the year after he was born. He starred in several films as a child actor, most notably the anti-war film The Boy with Green Hair. This became a cult classic, and he referenced it in his later performances in Battlestar and Batman Beyond. Stockwell landed himself an Oscar nomination in 1989 for his role in Married to the Mob. He retired from acting in 2015. His legacy includes one hundred film roles, and over seventy television roles. He was one of the outstanding character actors of the past century, and he will be missed by his fans.

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