M. Emmet Walsh, Star of ‘Blood Simple,’ Dies at 88

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One of the most recognizable faces in cinema of the last 50 years has died. M. Emmet Walsh left his mark on an incredible array of classic movies, from Blade Runner to Blood Simple to Midnight Cowboy to Fletch to Serpico to The Iron Giant and Knives Out.

Sadly, Walsh passed away on Tuesday. He was 88 years old. His manager told The Hollywood Reporter Walsh died after a heart attack.

Michel Emmet Walsh was born on March 22, 1935 in Ogdensburg,  New York. After studying business in college, he began acting. By the late 1960s, he was appearing in Hollywood movies of nearly every genre and style. You could see Walsh in the revisionist Western Little Big Man. You could also see him in the slapstick comedy The Jerk. Although Walsh was a character actor with a distinctive look and voice, he fit seamlessly into all sorts of films.

After an important supporting role in the original Blade Runner, Walsh gave his breakthrough performance in the Coen brothers’ feature directorial debut, Blood Simple, playing the untrustworthy private detective who gets wrapped up in a murder plot.

Following Blood Simple, Walsh could be counted on to appear in one or two films — or more — pretty much single year for decades. A short list of the movies where you might have seen him includes The Pope of Greenwich Village, Critters, Back to School, Harry and the Hendersons, Raising Arizona, Free Willy 2, A Time to Kill, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Snow Dogs, Christmas with the Kranks, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, and on and on and on. Walsh ultimately appeared in more than 200 movies and shows.

On television, Walsh worked on shows like All in the Family, Bonanza, The Rockford Files, Starsky and Hutch, The Twilight Zone, Amazing Stories, Home Improvement, and The X-Files, among many, many others. Walsh continued acting until the very end of his life. He can be seen in Mario Van Peebles’ Outlaw Posse, which was released on Netflix just a couple weeks ago.

You won’t find too many actors with a better body of work than M. Emmet Walsh. His performances will stand the test of time.

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