Kenneth Welsh, ‘The Aviator’ and ‘Twin Peaks’ Star, Dies at 80

Prolific Canadian actor had over 240 TV and film credits to his name

Kenneth Welsh
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Kenneth Welsh, a prolific Canadian actor who appeared in over 240 movies and TV projects including “The Aviator,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Twin Peaks,” has died. He was 80.

Welsh’s death was announced by the Canadian acting union ACTRA in Toronto on Friday, calling him “one of Canada’s all-time great performers, with hundreds of memorable roles spanning decades.”

Welsh “passed peacefully last evening surrounded by those closest to him,” Pam Winter, a partner at Toronto’s Gary Goddard Agency, also told CBC News. No cause of death was given.

Welsh memorably played the villain and crazed FBI agent Windom Earle in David Lynch’s ’90s series “Twin Peaks,” and he also portrayed the father to Cate Blanchett’s Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator.” Among some of his hundreds of parts, Welsh also appeared in movies like “The Fog,” “Miracle,” “Timecop,” “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer” and, more recently, “The Blacklist” and “Star Trek: Discovery.”

Curiously, Welsh’s casting in Roland Emmerich’s “The Day After Tomorrow,” in which he played the Vice President during a global environmental disaster, was seen as controversial because he resembled, at the time, the sitting VP Dick Cheney.

Welsh was born in Edmonton, Alberta, before moving to Montreal to attend the National Theatre School and studying drama. He began his career on stage and has portrayed both historical figures and Shakespearean characters. He was nominated for one Emmy in his career for playing Thomas Edison in a children’s special, but he also won several Canadian Genie Awards and Gemini Awards for various roles. His greatest honor came when he was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2003, which is Canada’s second highest honor for merit.