Dean Stockwell, Beloved Star Of Quantum Leap, Has Died

Dean Stockwell, the star of Quantum Leap and veteran of the stage and screen has passed away. The great actor was 85 years old.

By Doug Norrie | Updated

This article is more than 2 years old

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The acting community lost a great one on Monday with the news that Dean Stockwell had passed away. Deadline is reporting that the actor, who was 85, passed away at his home in California. Stockwell was a veteran of the stage and screen with an award-winning resume that spanned decades. It is reported that he died of natural causes. 

Dean Stockwell began acting at a very early age, having been in and around the entertainment industry in Los Angeles since birth. His parents were veterans of the stage and screen and he took a number of roles throughout his childhood and even early adult years. During the 1960s his career had an on-again, off-again nature to it and it was unclear if this was going to be his life’s work. It looked like he was going to hang it up and move into another career before being convinced otherwise. In the 70s and 80s, he would appear in a number of series and movies, mostly in smaller roles. 

But in the late 1980s is when things really started to ramp up for Dean Stockwell. He took a role in Married to the Mob with Michelle Pfeiffer, Alec Baldwin, and Matthew Modine. He played a mob boss in the comedy and it ended up earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He lost to Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda. 

Among his many credits, Dean Stockwell is probably best known for his role as Admiral Al Calavicci on NBC’s Quantum Leap. The heartwarming science-fiction show (two words that aren’t often used together) had Stockwell and star Scott Bakula in a series that was pretty different at the time. It centered on a scientist, Bakula’s Sam Beckett, who developed technology to time travel within his own lifetime. When the experiment goes off the rails he finds himself “leaping” from body to body and solving problems for the character. Stockwell’s Calavicci acted as his handler of sorts, appearing as a hologram to Beckett that could help give him advice but could never directly become part of any of the action. Stockwell was fantastic in the part. 

Quantum Leap last for five seasons on the network and Dean Stockwell even won an award for his performance. In 1991, he took home the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series. He was also Emmy-nominated four times for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.  In terms of iconic roles of the early-90s, Dean Stockwell definitely held one. Considering the show had only two recurring characters, a testament to its success was not only the writing but the familiarity brought by Bakula and Stockwell each week with the latter lending a comedic touch that was crucial to the whole affair.  

Later in life, Dean Stockwell would have a number of other different roles including parts in Air Force One, Rainmaker, and The Manchurian Candidate. He had a particularly notable role in the new Battlestar Galactica, where he played one of the most vicious and interesting Cylons. Younger readers of this site perhaps know him best from there.

Additionally, beyond the big and small screen, he worked on art installations. In 2015, after suffering a stroke, he officially retired from acting. Dean Stockwell is survived by his wife and two children. One of the greats will be missed.