M. Emmet Walsh, ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Raising Arizona’ Actor, Dies at 88

The longtime character actor most recently appeared in “Knives Out”

M. Emmet Walsh
M. Emmet Walsh (Credit: Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

M. Emmet Walsh, the veteran character actor best known for roles in “Blade Runner” and “Raising Arizona,” has died. He was 88.

Walsh died of cardiac arrest at Kerbs Memorial Hospital in St. Albans, Vermont, on Tuesday, according to his longtime manager, Sandy Joseph.

The actor became widely recognized for his standout portrayals of such memorable characters as the sleazy detective in the Coen Brothers’ film noir “Blood Simple,” Harrison Ford’s LAPD boss in Ridley Scott’s futuristic thriller “Blade Runner,” the slimy local sheriff in the sci-fi comedy horror film “Critters,” and the father of the groom in the romantic comedy “My Best Friend’s Wedding” with Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney.

Among his most recent credits are his scene-stealing performance as the elderly security guard in Rian Johnson’s murder-mystery comedy “Knives Out,” and roles in “Brothers” with Brendan Fraser for Legendary Films, the independent feature “God Loves the Green Bay Packers” and “The Righteous Gemstones” for HBO.

Born in Ogdensburg, New York, and raised in Swanton, Vermont, Walsh began his acting career on stage, making his Broadway debut in 1969. He transitioned to film and television, appearing in over 200 credits spanning six decades. His tremendous body of work includes 119 feature films and more than 250 television productions.

Notable other films include “Little Big Man,” “Slap Shot,” “Ordinary People,” “Reds” and “A Time to Kill.” On television, he had recurring roles on shows like “Frasier,” “The X-Files” and “NYPD Blue,” and did voice overs in documentaries “The Civil War” and “Baseball” by Ken Burns.

Walsh received the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead for “Blood Simple” in 1986 and was honored with the 2018 Carney Life Achievement Award. He established the Blarney Fund Education Trust to provide scholarships to Vermont students.

The veteran character actor treated each role with dedication, once saying, “I approach each job thinking it might be my last, so it better be the best work possible. I want to be remembered as a working actor. I’m being paid for what I’d do for nothing.”


One response to “M. Emmet Walsh, ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Raising Arizona’ Actor, Dies at 88”

  1. Randolf Turrow Avatar
    Randolf Turrow

    Was grateful to produce Man In The Chair with Emmet (which is Hebrew for Truth) who stole every scene he was in, including those with Academy Award Winner Christopher Plummer. Emmet wasn’t just an actor delivering lines as he consistently demonstrated what happens when a soul finds a way to make feelings audible and visible with one particular shirt off scene exposing a deteriorating flabby belly with full of body sores. It was always an extraordinary bar raising occasion to witness Walsh’s craft.

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