Fred Ward

Fred Ward, a veteran actor who brought a gruff tenderness to tough-guy roles in such films as “The Right Stuff,” “The Player” and “Tremors,” has died. He was 79.

Ward died Sunday, his publicist Ron Hofmann said Friday. No cause or place of death was disclosed per the family’s wishes.

Fred Ward’s Achievements In Life And Career

Ward earned a Golden Globe and shared the Venice Film Festival ensemble prize for his performance in Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts,” and played the title character in “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.” He also reached new heights playing Mercury 7 astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom in 1983′s Academy Award-nominated film “The Right Stuff.”

A former boxer, a lumberjack in Alaska, and a short-order cook who served in the U.S. Air Force, Ward was a San Diego native who was part Cherokee. One early big role was alongside Clint Eastwood in 1979′s “Escape From Alcatraz.”

Ward’s other roles included a rumpled cop chasing a psychotic criminal played by Alec Baldwin in George Armitage’s “Miami Blues.” He was a formidable and intimidating father to both Freddie Prinze Jr.’s character in “Summer Catch” and David Spade’s title character in “Joe Dirt.”

Fred Ward played President Ronald Reagan in the 2009 Cold War espionage thriller “Farewell” and had a supporting role in the 2013 action flick “2 Guns,” starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.

In the horror-comedy “Tremors,” Ward paired with Kevin Bacon to play a pair of repairmen who end up saving a hardscrabble Nevada desert community beset by giant underground snakes.

On the small screen, he had recurring roles on NBC’s “ER” playing the father of Maura Tierney’s Abby Lockhart in 2006-2007, and guest-starred on such series as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Leverage” and “United States of Tara.” Ward most recently appeared in the second season of HBO’s “True Detective” as the retired cop father of Colin Farrell’s Detective Ray Velcoro.

Fred Ward is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie-France Ward, and his son, Django Ward.