‘Tremors’ Star Fred Ward Dies at age 79

May 13, 2022

By Richard Schertzer

Veteran actor Fred Ward, who parlayed rugged every-man looks into a lengthy career playing everything from historic American heroes to a monster-fighting repairman, has died, his representative said Friday, according to NBC News.

Ward was 79 when he passed away on Sunday. The cause of his death was not immediately revealed.

The San Diego native and Air Force veteran had stints as a short-order cook, boxer, and Alaskan lumberjack before finding his true calling as an actor in the 1970s, Ward's manager Ron Hoffman said in a statement.

His first major role was in Clint Eastwood’s 1979 jailbreak classic “Escape from Alcatraz,” but Ward launched his career to the next level with his work in the 1983 space race epic "The Right Stuff," bringing Tom Wolfe's nonfiction best seller to the big screen. 

Ward played Gus Grissom, one of the seven pioneering astronauts who launched America into the space age.

The versatile actor is perhaps equally well known for the 1990 science-fiction comedy "Tremors," where he and Kevin Bacon played down-on-their luck repairmen who stumble upon a flesh-eating worm monster. The cult classic would spawn a franchise that included six sequels and a television series.