Dick Miller Passes Away
Veteran character actor and staple of Joe Dante’s films, Dick Miller, passed away this week at the age of 90. The performer had countless credits to his name, including Gremlins and After Hours.
A Legacy of “That Guy!” Performances
I’ve written countless times about the merits of the character actor. They take on thankless roles on the fringes of the main storyline and help the hero(es) complete their journey. Often, the barely essential nature of the role allows them to experiment and play around more than a leading role. Many times, this leads to a memorable performance, but not a household name. However, when viewers see their favorite character actors they often gleeful exclaim “It’s the guy! From the thing!”
This week, the world lost one of its most iconic character actors, Dick Miller. Miller straight-up killed it for nearly six decades in the film industry. He began his career in 1955 and appeared in movies and television up until 2015. There was even a documentary made about him titled That Guy Dick Miller. He began his acting career on Broadway and moved to California in 1952. His career began in Roger Corman’s Apache. From there, he collaborated on the director’s next 14 films and starred in A Bucket of Blood.
In 1976, Miller began a career-long partnership with Joe Dante. He appeared in every one of Dante’s films until 2014. Most notably, he played Murray Futterman in Gremlins and Gremlins 2. In addition to Dante, he worked with every major director of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. The actor appeared in Spielberg’s 1941, Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York and After Hours, James Cameron’s The Terminator, and even features in a deleted scene of Pulp Fiction.
A Life Well Lived
Dick Miller lived a life any performer would love to have. Unfortunately, he passed away on January 30th, 2019 at the age of 90. He died of natural causes. It’s always sad to see beloved performers leave the world, but they leave behind countless hours of entertainment for generations to enjoy. Dick Miller’s legacy is secured in some of the greatest cult classic and B-movies of all time, and that’s a massive achievement.
If you want my two cents, check out Martin Scorsese’s After Hours. Miller plays Pete, the diner owner, and helps kick off a very strange sequence of events. The movie is a modern retelling of The Wizard of Oz mixed with a healthy dose of The Odyssey. Effectively, Pete is Charon, the ferryman of lost souls into Hades. It’s a wild movie and even though he isn’t a prominent player, Miller is my favorite character in the whole film.