In what’s been a very sad week for we film fans, we’ve lost yet another fixture of our beloved cinema today with the passing of the veritably omnipresent character actor, Geoffrey Lewis.
In his five-decade spanning career, Lewis appeared in over 200 features and television shows, his chameleon-like skills allowing him to be hero or villain, loveable or fearsome, friend or foe. Though his name may not have always been as well-known as his face, you’d be hard-pressed to find any film fan today that wouldn’t recognize him. His work ranged throughout genres, appearing in television in everything from Bonanza to The A-Team to Dawson’s Creek to Law & Order, and in films branching across almost every imaginable type; Dillinger, High Plains Drifter, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Every Which Way But Loose…the list could go on and on; this is a tiny sampling in both cases.
To we horror fans, he lent his considerable talents to our memories as well, appearing in a number of genre films, including Moon of the Wolf, Night of the Comet, Disturbed, Trilogy of Terror II, Song of the Vampire, The Devil’s Rejects…and in my personal favorite of his horror portfolio, he played the unfortunate Mike Ryerson in Tobe Hooper’s 1979 version of Salem’s Lot…his stark delivery of his lines sitting in that rocking chair forever emblazoned itself into my memory, and when I think of a truly scary vampire, it’s that green-eyed, rasping image that I often see in my mind’s eye.
Lewis leaves behind a large family, with ten children including popular actress Juliette Lewis. He is remembered as a bright and jovial individual, who even while battling Parkinson’s Disease and dementia for the past few years remained optimistic and brave. He was 79.
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