Yesterday it was widely reported that Dean Stockwell who is best known to Sci-Fi fans as Al Calavicci passed away at the age of 85. Over the period of 70 plus years. Stockwell had entertained and enthralled audiences playing a great many television and movie characters.
His career started out in the 1940s whereas as a child actor he broke onto the scene in movies such as The Boy with Green Hair and Kim. The latter of which saw him hold his own against the legendary Errol Flynn and many other big names of the period. His career in films took a bit of a dive throughout the early 70s when he’d often be pretty much a jobbing actor picking up character roles in various movies and television shows. Throughout the 50s and 60s he’d grow into a critically acclaimed star winning two best actor Oscars along the way. But in the 70s his career would settle down somewhat as he’d take mostly TV roles and guest appearances.
His star would rise again in the 1980s when he’d take roles in such big movies as To Live and Die in L.A., Blue Velvet, and Married to the Mobin which he played the memorable Tony ‘The Tiger’ Russo, which got him an academy award nomination for best-supporting actor and relit his career. It would be shortly after this that the actor would take on the role of Al Calavicci in Quantum Leap, where he’d win over a whole new generation of fans and become somewhat of an iconic science fiction television star. Al of course was Sam Becketts best friend and could only appear to him as a hologram. The chemistry between Dean Stockwell and Scott Bakula was undeniable and a joy to watch. He’d later pick up more science fiction television work in Star Trek: Enterprise and the Re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica, but neither of those roles was as memorable to us as Al.
An academy award winner for his role in the 1962 film Long Day’s Journey into Night Stockwell is an actor that we’ll truly miss on both the small and big screen. As no matter the role he would fully commit and draw audiences into imaginative and gritty worlds.
For Sci-Fi Fans Dean Stockwell will always be Al Calavicci, which is a character that I doubt they’ll recast should they ever re-imagine Quantum Leap as it would be difficult for any actor to fill the shoes that he leaves behind. Rest in peace and say hi to ziggy for us.