‘S.W.A.T.’ Star Steve Forrest Dies at 87

The actor portrayed Lt. Dan "Hondo" Harrelson on ABC’s “S.W.A.T.," which ran for two seasons on ABC

Steve Forrest, an actor best known for his role as Lt. Dan 'Hondo' Harrelson on ABC’s “S.W.A.T.,” died in Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Saturday. He was 87.

A cause of death was not made available, but he passed away peacefully surrounded by family, according to a statement from his publicist, Amanda Nguyen.

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Forrest, a World War II veteran and UCLA graduate, began his acting career in the early '50s after being discovered by actor Gregory Peck while working as a stagehand at La Jolla Playhouse.  

Peck cast him in a production at the playhouse and later arranged for his first screen test with MGM, where he was placed under contract.

His star rose quickly. In 1953, Forrest garnered the New Star of the Year Golden Globe Award for his performance in the Warner Bros. film “So Big," in which he appeared opposite Jane Wyman and Sterling Hayden. Other film roles he landed during the decade include a P.O.W. opposite Ronald Reagan in MGM’s “Prisoner of War” (1954), Robert Taylor’s younger brother in “Rogue Cop” (1954) and Doris Day’s would-be suitor in “It Happened to Jane” (1959).

In a Hollywood career spanning 60 years, Forrest appeared in a number of other roles on both the big and small screen. After nabbing a number of roles on classic early television series including “Playhouse 90,” “Climax! Theater,” “Lux Video Theater” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” he starred in 1981's "Mommie Dearest" with Faye Dunaway, the 1985 comedy "Spies LIke Us," and he was a regular on "Dallas" for one season in 1985. 

In 1965, Forrest relocated to London to star as as John Mannering, the international antique dealer-secret agent, in BBC's "The Baron," the first color series ever to air on British television.

Forrest most famously lead the cast of cop drama "S.W.A.T." as 'Hondo' for two seasons between 1975 and 1976. Samuel L. Jackson later portrayed the same character in the 2003 movie adaptation co-starring Colin FarrellMichelle Rodriguez and LL Cool J.

Forrest made a cameo in the film as a van driver — an homage to the role he originated, in which he was frequently seen jumping into the S.W.A.T. team's large dark gray van shouting the signature line, “Let’s roll!” 

Forrest is survived by his wife Christine, sons Michael, Forrest and wife Lori Andrews of Los Angeles, Stephen and wife Sally Andrews of Napa Valley and his grandchildren Samantha, Emily, Aubrey and Alex Andrews.

A service for family and friends will be held on May 30 at 10 a.m. at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Griffin Memorial Park at 5600 Lindero Canyon Rd, Westlake Village.