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Dean Stockwell: 10 Roles to Remember Him by From 'Quantum Leap' to 'Blue Velvet'

Newsweek logo Newsweek 11/9/2021 Samuel Spencer
Dean Stockwell in "Quantum Leap." The actor won a Golden Globe for his role in the sci-fi series. © NBCUniversal Dean Stockwell in "Quantum Leap." The actor won a Golden Globe for his role in the sci-fi series.

Dean Stockwell's career has come to an end after he played more than 200 screen roles, won two Golden Globes and gained Oscar and Emmy nominations. On November 7, 2021, the actor died aged 85 of natural causes after a 70-year career.

He appeared in his first film as a child actor at the age of nine, and as a juvenile he starred alongside actors like Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly.

Though he won a special Golden Globe in the late 1940s, it would be his '80s work that would get the actor his most recognition, playing notable roles in films by auteurs like David Lynch, Wim Wenders and Jonathan Demme.

His biggest fanbase, however, is in the science fiction community, thanks to his major roles in Quantum Leap and the Battlestar Galactica reboot.

10 Dean Stockwell Roles to Remember Him By

Gentleman's Agreement (1947)

A working child actor since 1945, Stockwell first came to the attention of award bodies in this Oscar Best Picture winner, one of the first films to tackle the subject of anti-semitism. For his role as Tommy Green, Stockwell won a special "best juvenile actor" Golden Globe at the age of 11.

Compulsion (1959)

Stockwell won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival twice. The first was for his role as a teenage killer in this drama, which starred Orson Welles, based on the shocking Leopold and Loeb murder case.

Sons and Lovers (1960)

After his childhood Golden Globe win, Stockwell received the first of his four adult nominations (plus one win) for his role in this adaptation of the DH Lawrence novel. He played Paul Morel, an aspiring artist at odds with his coal mining family.

Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962)

Video: Dean Stockwell, ‘Quantum Leap’ Star, Dead at 85 (The Independent)


The actor's second Cannes win came for his role in the film adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's legendary American play, in which he played the alcoholic youngest son in the dysfunctional Tyrone family – and held his own against acting greats like Katharine Hepburn and Ralph Richardson.

Dean Stockwell in "Paris, Texas." The actor died in November 2021 at the age of 85. 20th Century Studios © 20th Century Studios Dean Stockwell in "Paris, Texas." The actor died in November 2021 at the age of 85. 20th Century Studios

Paris, Texas (1984)

In Wim Wenders' classic of '80s cinema (currently one of the top 250 movies, according to IMDB), Stockwell plays Walt, the more responsible brother to Harry Dean Stanton's dazed Travis, who looks after his son.

Dune (1984)

David Lynch's version of the Frank Herbert sci-fi classic (recently remade by Denis Villeneuve) is an almighty mess, but the actor's role as Doctor Wellington Yueh did lead to another iconic collaboration with Lynch...

Blue Velvet (1986)

Stockwell only has limited screen time in David Lynch's troubling drama, but he makes the most of it in the movie's best scene. He plays Ben, the man who sings "In Dreams" into the light fixture in the center of the movie.

Married to the Mob (1988)

Stockwell received his sole Oscar nomination for his role as mobster and main villain, Tony 'The Tiger' Russo, in this Michelle Pfeiffer-starring crime comedy from future Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme.

Quantum Leap (1989 - 1993)

By far Stockwell's most famous role, the actor received four Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe for playing Admiral Al Calavicci, the character who appeared to Scott Bakula's Sam Beckett as a hologram.

It is perhaps fitting that the actor's penultimate role (in 2014) was a reference to his work on Quantum Leap. That year, he was reunited with his former co-star Bakula on his show, NCIS: New Orleans (the pair also starred together on Star Trek: Enterprise).

Battlestar Galactica (2006 - 2009)

The actor's last great role. In the cult reimagining of the '70s sci-fi show, Stockwell played John Cavil aka Number One, the first of the 12 Cylon models. This allowed the veteran character actor to play multiple versions of the same character across 15 episodes.

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