M. Emmet Walsh dead aged 88: Knives Out and Blade Runner actor passes away after legendary decades-long career in Hollywood

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Written By Maya Cantina
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  • Walsh died at Kerbs Memorial Hospital in Vermont following cardiac arrest
  • Actor appeared in 19 films and estimated 250 TV projects in six decades 
  • He had memorable roles in Blade Runner and My Best Friend’s Wedding  

Legendary M. Emmet Walsh has died at the age of 88.

Walsh, who worked in show business for more than 60 years, died Tuesday at Kerbs Memorial Hospital in St. Albans, Vermont following a cardiac arrest, his manager Sandy Joseph told Entertainment Tonight.

The recognizable performer carved out a stellar body of work over his six decades in film, television and stage, as Joseph said that his resume included parts in 119 motion pictures, and 250 TV projects, consisting of shows, films and miniseries. 

The veteran actor’s most memorable roles came in films such as 1982’s Blade Runner, 1986’s Critters and 1997’s My Best Friend’s Wedding.

Walsh was born in Ogdensburg, New York March 22, 1935, and grew up in Swanton, Vermont, a rural area. 

Legendary M. Emmet Walsh has died at the age of 88. Pictured in 2019 in LA

The star of TV, film and the stage died Tuesday at Kerbs Memorial Hospital in St. Albans, Vermont following a cardiac arrest, his manager Sandy Joseph said. Pictured in 2018 in LA

The star of TV, film and the stage died Tuesday at Kerbs Memorial Hospital in St. Albans, Vermont following a cardiac arrest, his manager Sandy Joseph said. Pictured in 2018 in LA  

He began appearing regularly in TV and film in the late 1960s with roles in films such as 1969’s Alice’s Restaurant, Stiletto, and Midnight Cowboy; and TV shows such as 1967’s N.Y.P.D. and 1968’s The Doctors.

Walsh steadily worked throughout the 1970s, appearing in a number of memorable films and TV shows with the biggest stars of the timeframe.

He acted opposite Dustin Hoffman in the 1970 film Little Big Man; alongside Joanne Woodward and George C. Scott in the 1971 film They Might Be Giants; opposite Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal in 1972’s What’s Up, Doc?

He also appeared with James Caan in 1974’s The Gambler; opposite Paul Newman in the classic 1977 hockey comedy Slap Shot; and alongside Steve Martin in the 1979 comedy classic The Jerk.

The 1980s brought dozens more exciting and eventful projects for Walsh, most notably the role of Harrison Ford’s police superior Bryant, in the 1982 hit Blade Runner, for filmmaker Ridley Scott. 

Other notable motion pictures he appeared in during the decade included 1984’s Blood Simple, 1984’s The Pope of Greenwich Village, 1985’s Fletch, 1986’s Wildcats, 1986’s Back To School, 1987’s Raising Arizona and 1988’s Clean and Sober.

Walsh also carved out an extensive resume of TV work, with regular roles on shows including Sneaky Pete and The Mind of the Married Man.

Walsh had also made guest appearances on dozens of prominent TV shows over the decade, including The Twilight Zone, The Bob Newhart Show, Empire, Frasier, Home Improvement, The X-Files, NYPD Blue, Bonanza and The Waltons.

The 1980s brought dozens more exciting and eventful projects for Walsh, most notably the role of Harrison Ford's police superior Bryant, in the 1982 hit Blade Runner, for filmmaker Ridley Scott

The 1980s brought dozens more exciting and eventful projects for Walsh, most notably the role of Harrison Ford’s police superior Bryant, in the 1982 hit Blade Runner, for filmmaker Ridley Scott

Walsh acted opposite Dustin Hoffman in the 1970 film Little Big Man

Walsh acted opposite Dustin Hoffman in the 1970 film Little Big Man

Walsh appeared in multiple films throughout the 1980s, including Blood Simple in 1984

Walsh appeared in multiple films throughout the 1980s, including Blood Simple in 1984 

Walsh also had an impressive background on the stage, as he was pictured in a production of Buried Child on London's West End opposite Lauren Ambrose

Walsh also had an impressive background on the stage, as he was pictured in a production of Buried Child on London’s West End opposite Lauren Ambrose

Walsh appeared in the role of Fred Miller opposite Denzel Washington in 1989's The Mighty Quinn

Walsh appeared in the role of Fred Miller opposite Denzel Washington in 1989’s The Mighty Quinn 

Walsh portrayed the role of Mr. Proofroc in the 2019 hit Knives Out alongside Daniel Craig and LaKeith Stanfield

Walsh portrayed the role of Mr. Proofroc in the 2019 hit Knives Out alongside Daniel Craig and LaKeith Stanfield

Walsh was pictured filming a poker scene for the 2004 production of Inn Trouble

Walsh was pictured filming a poker scene for the 2004 production of Inn Trouble 

Walsh was pictured opposite Sandy Duncan in a 1972 promotional shot for The Sandy Duncan Show

Walsh was pictured opposite Sandy Duncan in a 1972 promotional shot for The Sandy Duncan Show 

Walsh worked for famed filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen on 1984's Blood Simple

Walsh worked for famed filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen on 1984’s Blood Simple 

Also in 1984, Walsh was seen in the motion picture Grandview, U.S.A. alongside Elizabeth Gorcey

Also in 1984, Walsh was seen in the motion picture Grandview, U.S.A. alongside Elizabeth Gorcey

Walsh was pictured in the 1981 motion picture Back Roads

Walsh was pictured in the 1981 motion picture Back Roads

Walsh also had extensive experience doing voice-over work, as he narrated the PBS documentary feature The Civil War, as well as projects such as The Iron Giant, Pound Puppies and Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot.

Among his notable stage credits included a role opposite Al Pacino and Hal Holbrook in 1969’s Does the Tiger Wear a Necktie?

Walsh was also at the receiving end of a number of accolades amid his decades-long career , including a Carney Life Achievement Award in 2018 at the Carney Awards, which are informally referred to as the Character Actors Hall of Fame.

In 1998, Walsh was awarded by the Breckenridge Festival of Film, as well as Clarkson University, where he attended, with The Golden Knight, an honor reserved for alums of the institution.

Walsh was remembered by a number of peers, fans and entertainment aficionados on social media.

‘One of the finest actors and human beings I have ever known, M Emmet Walsh has passed,’ actor Rob Schneider. ‘I remember all his wonderful stories and how generous he was with the wisdom and acting knowledge he had accumulated in his 119 movies he made in his career. God bless you, my friend.’

One fan said, ‘M. Emmet Walsh was one of the ultimate THAT GUY actors.

‘Always loved seeing him pop up in anything, whether it was Blade Runner, Knives Out, Blood Simple, or even Christmas with the Kranks. Rest well, sir, you rock.

Walsh was remembered by a number of peers, fans and entertainment aficionados on social media, including actor Rob Schneider

Walsh was remembered by a number of peers, fans and entertainment aficionados on social media, including actor Rob Schneider 

Said another, ‘Rest in Peace actor M. Emmet Walsh. I met him a few years ago and he gave me this baseball card sized pic with stills from his greatest roles and a printed out resume.’

A tweet from the podcast of the late comedian-character actor Gilbert Gottfried read, ‘Team #GGACP bids adieu to actor and podcast cast guest M. EMMET WALSH. In a career spanning over 50 years, Walsh left an indelible mark in many iconic films. #RIP.’ 

The late actor is survived by niece Meagan Walsh, nephew Kevin Walsh (Renee), and grandnephews Emmet and Elliot. He had been preceded in death by father Harry Maurice Walsh Sr., mother Agnes and brother, Harry Maurice Walsh, Jr.

ᴀʀᴛɪᴄʟᴇ ꜱᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ

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