Dean Stockwell, ‘Quantum Leap’ Star, Dies at 85
A beloved presence in film and television for over 70 years has died. Dean Stockwell — best known as Al on Quantum Leap — passed away on the morning of November 7. According to Deadline, “he died peacefully at home of natural causes.” Stockwell was 85 years old.
Stockwell was born in Hollywood in 1936 into a show business family; his father was a Broadway actor and also voiced Prince Charming in the original Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Stockwell got started in the business at an early age and had a contract as a child actor with MGM. He took a break from acting to go to college then returned to television, appearing on shows like Playhouse 90, Climax!, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
For a few years in the mid-1960s, Stockwell left acting again and became a part of the local hippie scene in Southern California. When he resumed his career, he picked up where he left off, appearing in many of the popular TV shows of the day, including Mannix, The F.B.I., Mission: Impossible, Night Gallery, The Streets of San Francisco, and multiple episodes of Columbo. In 1984, at the age of almost 50, he had a breakthrough in a key supporting role in Wim Wender’s Paris, Texas, where he played the brother of Harry Dean Stanton’s character.
More key supporting roles in movies followed, including David Lynch’s Dune and William Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A. In 1998, Stockwell earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Jonathan Demme’s Married to the Mob.
One year later, Stockwell got his signature role, appearing as Admiral Al Calavicci on five seasons of the NBC sci-fi series Quantum Leap. On the show, Stockwell played the holographic friend and companion to Scott Bakula’s Sam Beckett, a scientist who gets stuck in the past in an experiment gone wrong. Sam “leaps” into the bodies of various people in various places and times, and fixes some mistake in that person’s life with Al’s help.
Stockwell continued acting until he suffered a stroke in the mid 2015s. Over his long career he was also nominated for an Emmy, won two Golden Globes, two acting prizes at Cannes, and won numerous critics awards for his performance in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tucker: The Man and His Dream. He leaves behind a remarkable body of work and will be sorely missed.