Actor John Heard, who played dad in “Home Alone” movies, dies at 72

Actor John Heard, who led an illustrious career in movies and television, was found dead in a hotel in Palo Alto, California where he was reportedly recovering after undergoing back surgery.

The Santa Clara Medical Examiner’s office confirmed his death  at the age of 72.

Rosanna Arquette, who played Heard’s girlfriend in After Hours (although they didn’t appear on-screen together), wrote on Facebook, “Rest In Peace John Heard. Brilliant artist. My roommate in NYC .. in the 80s , my mentor in those years. Coach for Baby It’s You. You always made me laugh ..heartbroken.”


Heard’s acting credits include Chilly Scenes of Winter, Heart Beat, Cutter’s Way, Cat People, and C.H.U.D., as well as supporting roles in After Hours, Big, Beaches, Awakenings, Rambling Rose, The Pelican Brief, My Fellow Americans,Snake Eyes, and Animal Factory.

He also played Peter McCallister in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, as well as appearing in Sharknado. Heard was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1999 for guest starring on The Sopranos.

In the 1970s, Heard appeared on the stage, television and film. He appeared off-Broadway in 1974 in Mark Medoff’s play The Wager and at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in 1977 in a series of new plays.

Heard won Obie Awards for his performances in Othello and Split in 1979–80. He was the male lead in the 1979 film Head Over Heels (which was renamed re-released as Chilly Scenes of Winter in 1982).

In 1981, he had the starring role of Alex Cutter in the film Cutter’s Way. He played the lover of Nastassja Kinski, one of the main characters, in the remake of Cat People (1982). He co-starred as photographer George Cooper in C.H.U.D. (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers, 1984) alongside future Home Alone co-star Daniel Stern and in The Trip to Bountiful (1985). In Heaven Help Us (aka, Catholic Boys, 1985), Heard played as a monk named Brother Timothy in the comedy-drama film. In After Hours (also 1985), Heard was bartender Tom Schorr.

He was seen in the film The Milagro Beanfield War and had a significant role playing Paul, Tom Hanks’s adult corporate competitor and jilted boyfriend of Elizabeth Perkins, in Big (both 1988).

He co-starred with Bette Midler in Beaches (also 1988), and starred in Deceived (1991), with Goldie Hawn, playing Jack Saunders, and starred in Gladiator (1992), with Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Heard starred in the philosophical film Mindwalk, in which three characters from different socialitical and poetical backgrounds express their opinions on the human experience, and around the same time, he was in Awakenings (both 1990) alongside Robert De Niro and Robin Williams.

He played Daugherty in the film Radio Flyer (1992) and FBI agent Gavin Vereek in The Pelican Brief (1993). He starred with Samuel L. Jackson in 1997’s One Eight Seven and was featured in the 2000 miniseries Perfect Murder, Perfect Town.

In 1990 Heard starred in arguably his most memorable mainstream role as Peter McCallister, as Kevin’s father who unwittingly leaves his son at home when making a Christmas trip to France, in the comedy hit Home Alone.

Heard chose to characterize the role with a combination of concerned dramatic acting of a father missing his son along with more classical comedic tropes.  The film went on to be one of the biggest hits of 1990, and Heard reprises the role in the sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

Heard featured in a television production of The Scarlet Letter (1979) as Arthur Dimmesdale. He played real-life Ku Klux Klan leader D.C. Stephenson in the TV-miniseries Cross of Fire (1989) and played the part of David Manning in the ABC mini-series adaptation of Shirley MacLaine’s Out on a Limb, a memoir of her journey toward acceptance of spiritual and extraterrestrial realities.

Heard had roles on The Sopranos as the troubled corrupt detective Vin Makazian for which he received an Emmy nomination as outstanding guest actor and later Battlestar Galactica as Commander Barry Garner.

He had recurring roles on CSI: Miami (as Kenwall Duquesne, father of Calleigh Duquesne) and Prison Break (as Frank Tancredi, governor of Illinois and father of Sara Tancredi). Among other film and television roles in the 2000s and 2010s, he played the mayor of Chicago on two episodes of the Fox series The Chicago Code.

“I am shocked and saddened to awake to the news that John Heard passed away last night,” actor Robert Patrick, who starred alongside Heard in Last Rampage, wrote on Instagram. “Such a gifted actor! I am so grateful I had the opportunity to watch, work, and spend time with him. This is tragic news.”

James Woods? wrote, “Devastated to hear of the passing of lifelong friend #JohnHeard. A complex and brilliant man and a true artist. I will miss him dearly. #RIP” on Twitter.

Heard married actress Margot Kidder in 1979. He has a son, John Matthew “Jack” Heard, with ex-girlfriend Melissa Leo.  He has two other former wives, Sharon Heard and Lana Pritchard. Sharon and Heard have two children together, son Max and a daughter named Annika. Heard and Pritchard married on May 24, 2010, in Los Angeles and divorced on December 22, 2010 after about seven months of marriage.

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