Veteran character actor John Heard has passed away at age 71 in Palo Alto, California, with the Santa Clara County coroner’s office confirming to Deadline that the cause of death is currently under investigation.
Heard had a lengthy roster of film and television credits throughout a career spanning four decades, including playing the forgetful father in “Home Alone” and its sequel.
As TMZ reports, Heard was reportedly staying in a hotel while recovering from “minor back surgery” he underwent on Wednesday, and was found dead in his hotel room by the maid service, according to “family sources.”
“Police were called to the hotel for a report of a medical emergency, but he was pronounced dead on the scene,” reports TMZ. “The coroner is investigating, and cause of death is unclear at this time.”
According to a statement released by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office, an autopsy was completed by the cause of death has yet to be determined; an investigation is being undertaken, which will toxicology testing.
“Based on the investigation so far,” notes the statement, “there is no evidence of foul play.”
In addition to “Home Alone”, Heard will be remembered for frequent film work throughout the 1980s and ’90s, including such films as “Cutter’s Way”, “Cat People”, “After Hours”, “Big”, “Beaches”, “Awakenings”, “The Pelican Brief” and more after launching his career on Broadway in the mid-1970s.
On the small screen, Heard received a 1999 Emmy nomination in for his guest-starring appearance as New Jersey police detective Vin Makazian, who fed information to mob boss Tony Soprano on “The Sopranos”.
More recently, Heard had been a frequent guest star on an array of TV series, including such shows as “CSI: Miami”, “Prison Break”, “Elementary”, “MacGyver”, “Modern Family” and “APB”, and also appeared in the Internet-breaking “Sharknado” back in 2013. As Deadline notes, he was most recently seen in an episode of “The Outsiders” that aired in April.
In a 2013 interview with Yahoo, Heard admitted that the success of “Home Alone” led him to struggle against becoming typecast. “I didn’t want to be the ‘Home Alone’ Dad for the rest of my life,” he said.
In a later interview with the AV Club, Heard reveals that was a big reason why he eagerly took on a role in the first “Sharknado”.
“When my agent called me up and said, ‘Do you want to be in a movie called “Sharknado“?’ I said, ‘What is it about? Is it really about sharks falling out of the sky and eating people?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘Definitely. That is going to be a huge hit. That is going to put to rest the ‘Home Alone’ dad image. I’m going to be the ‘Sharknado’ drunk instead, hopefully.’ And I was right. I don’t know how I knew that, but I just knew that ‘Sharknado’ was going be a huge hit.”
Following news of Heard’s passing, actor Elijah Wood (who appeared with Heard in the 1992 drama “Radio Flyer”) was among the many who took to social media to pay their respects.
Also honouring the late actor is Oscar winner Jeff Bridges, who co-starred with Heard in the 1981 thriller “Cutter’s Way”, as well as Marlon Wayans and Heard’s “Home Alone” co-star Daniel Stern.