M. Emmet Walsh, Actor from “Knives Out, Blade Runner” and More, Dead at 88

The character actor died of cardiac arrest on Tuesday

<p>Jerod Harris/Getty</p> M. Emmet Walsh on November 14, 2019 in Westwood, California.

Jerod Harris/Getty

M. Emmet Walsh on November 14, 2019 in Westwood, California.

M. Emmet Walsh, the renowned character actor who starred in Blade Runner and Knives Out, died on Tuesday. He was 88.

The actor’s manager, Sandy Joseph, and publicist Cynthia Snyder confirmed his death with PEOPLE on Wednesday. He died of cardiac arrest in St. Albans, Vermont, on Tuesday, per Snyder.

“In a remarkable career spanning six decades on stage, in film and television, he became widely recognized for his standout portrayals of such memorable characters,” read Snyder’s statement.

Walsh appeared in 119 feature films and more than 250 television productions.

Michael Emmet Walsh was born on March 22, 1935, in Ogdensburg, New York, and was raised in Swanton, Vermont.

He earned a degree in business administration and marketing from Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, and studied at the Academy of Dramatic Arts. He made his onscreen debut in the 1969 film Alice's Restaurant, and the next year, he moved from New York to Los Angeles.

<p>Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett</p> M. Emmet Walsh in "Blade Runner."

Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett

M. Emmet Walsh in "Blade Runner."

Throughout the 1970s, he starred alongside Hollywood’s biggest names. At the start of the decade, he appeared alongside Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man. The following year, he was in Joanne Woodward’s They Might Be Giants. Then, in 1972, he appeared in the romantic comedy What’s Up, Doc — which starred Ryan O’Neal and Barbra Streisand.

He then appeared alongside Woodward’s husband, Paul Newman, in the 1977 sports hit Slap Shot. He then reunited with Hoffman in 1978 for Straight Time. The next year, he was in The Jerk with Steve Martin.

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<p>TriStar Pictures/ Everett</p> M. Emmet Walsh in "My Best Friend's Wedding."

TriStar Pictures/ Everett

M. Emmet Walsh in "My Best Friend's Wedding."

In the following decade, he ventured into neo-noir films and starred in the 1982 sci-fi cult classic Blade Runner with Harrison Ford. Two years later, he starred in directors Joel and Ethan Coen's debut film, the crime noir Blood Simple with Frances McDormand. He worked with the Coen Brothers again in the 1987 comedy Raising Arizona, starring Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter.

In addition to the aforementioned features, Walsh also acted alongside many more stars throughout the 1980s — including Robert Redford in Brubaker (1980), Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People (1980), Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton in Reds (1981), Chevy Chase in Fletch (1985), Michael Keaton in Clean and Sober (1988), and many more.

In the next few decades, he also starred in a gamut of films, from the romantic comedy My Best Friend's Wedding to the sports film Racing Stripes to the murder mystery hit Knives Out.

"I don't want to play the same type of character 10 times," Walsh told The Denver Gazette in 2014. "I want to be a garbage collector in one film and a governor in the next."

"I approach each job thinking it might be my last," added Walsh. "So it had better be the best work possible."

<p>Lionsgate</p> M. Emmet Walsh in "Knives Out."


M. Emmet Walsh in "Knives Out."

Walsh also appeared in several TV shows, including the recent series The Righteous Gemstones and Sneaky Pete, as well as Frasier, The X-Files, NYPD Blue, The Twilight Zone, The Bob Newhart Show and The Rockford Files.

He has two projects that will come out posthumously. Later this year, the Western Outlaw Posse will premiere, while Green & Gold is currently in post-production.

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<p>Ryan Green/HBO/Everett</p> John Goodman and M. Emmet Walsh in "The Righteous Gemstones."

Ryan Green/HBO/Everett

John Goodman and M. Emmet Walsh in "The Righteous Gemstones."

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In 1998, he was honored by the Breckenridge Festival of Film, and that same year received Clarkson University’s alumni award, The Golden Knight. In 2018, he received the Carney Life Achievement Award at the annual Carney Awards, known as the Character Actors Hall of Fame.

He also established the Blarney Fund Education Trust in 1979 to help provide scholarships to Vermont students.

He is survived by his niece, nephew and two grandnephews.

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