Ward, who worked on films such as The Right Stuff, Shortcuts, and others, died on May 8 at the age of 79. There was no mention of a cause of death.
Ward began performing in the early 1970s following three years in the United States Air Force. Ward, a Renaissance man, worked as a short-term cook, boxer, and lumberjack in Alaska. Escape from Alcatraz, directed by Clint Eastwood, was his first major role.
In “The Right Stuff,” Ward portrayed real-life Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Gleason. He switched gears in “Henry and June,” playing the smoking, alcoholic author Henry Miller, who traveled to Paris in 1931 to complete his book, “The Tropic of Cancer.” In 1988, Ward bought the film rights to the Miami Blues,
In which Wardhawk played a seasoned Miami detective trying to target a wily ex-convict. Ward later worked with Robert Altman in The Player, played the gangster in Alan Rudolph’s Equinox, and was a TV news anchor for Tim Robbins’ Bob Roberts. In 1993, he played one of three friends whose bodies were found while fishing in Short Cuts. “Fred Ward is unique in that you never know where he ends up and his career decisions are so unpredictable,” Hoffman said in an emailed statement. Ward’s other films include Summer Catch, Sweet Home Alabama and Abandon.
On TV, Ward starred in series such as Tara’s America, Grey’s Anatomy, Leverage, True Detective, and more. Also an artist, Ward has turned some of his creative talents to painting in recent years. He is survived by his wife Marie-France Ward, 27, and son Django Ward.