We Fellow Fans and purveyors of cult cinema have lost an unforgettable face with the passing of Robert Z’Dar on March 30th.
Probably best known to us as Matt Cordell, the titular character in the Maniac Cop series, Z’Dar’s work spanned three decades, and included roles alongside Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell in Tango & Cash and with Christian Slater and Costas Mandylor in Mobsters. His burly, six-foot two-inch frame and dramatic, signature jawline (enlarged by cherubism) made him a sought-after actor for primarily villainous roles, and thus he is well-known and most prolific in his B-Flick, cult film roles, such as Soultaker and Samurai Cop.
Prior to his acting career, Z’Dar was a student and athlete at Arizona State University, and worked as a jingle writer, a musician with the band Nova Express, a Chippendale dancer, and (most ironically) a Chicago police officer.
He’s remembered by friends and family as a good friend and gentle soul; his Maniac Cop cast-mate, Bruce Campbell, called him a “sweetheart”.
Very active in his work, Z’Dar appeared in 121 films in his career, almost one a year since 1985. Right up to the end, he was still working, just finishing the film Easter Sunday and planning to appear in a sequel to Samurai Cop. Always a fan favorite, he was in Pensacola on the convention circuit when chest pains forced him to a local hospital, where his condition deteriorated. He was sixty-four.
Though he will be missed, he leaves behind a great legacy to horror and cult film fans.
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