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Jan-Michael Vincent 15th July 1944 – 10th February 2019

I woke up this morning with a pain in my chest and now I have an ache in my heart because one of my very earliest heart throbs has died. Jan-Michael Vincent first impressed me when he was The World’s Fastest Athlete for Disney and Link Simmons in The Banana Splits and late one night on TV I saw The Mechanic: him learning to be a hitman with Charles Bronson – you can see my point. I think I was 9 when I caught that one. Later still I discovered him in Big Wednesday which is, you know, the best film ever. And again, a wonderfully atmospheric early 70s romantic mystery, Sandcastles.  And when I could actually see him on the big screen proper at the cinema he appeared alongside my other favourite guy, Burt Reynolds, in the fantastic Hooper (Vincent had been in an episode of Reynolds’ show Dan August). He did action roles, good ol’ boys and romantic heroes. He even did a couple of Cheech and Chong moviesBut to the whole wide world he is really best known for Airwolf, which made him one of TV’s highest paid actors in the 80s in the role of Stringfellow Hawke. He got a Golden Globe nomination for The Winds of War, the massively successful TV adaptation of Herman Wouk’s novel which brought our favourite conflict into the comfort of our living rooms. He had a charming smile and he didn’t so much walk as swagger:  you couldn’t take your eyes off him in a scene. Prestige projects had long tapered off by the 90s and he even appeared in some ‘erotic’ dramas with the likes of Shannon Tweed but in 1996 Vincent Gallo recognised his cult value and cast him in Buffalo ’66.  He endured several illnesses and one led to the amputation of his lower right leg,.  He officially retired in 2009, the glory days long behind him. His death has just emerged today. May he rest in peace. He was loved – so very much. Keep surfing, Matt. Dying is for faggots

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

2 responses to “Jan-Michael Vincent 15th July 1944 – 10th February 2019

  1. Paul S

    Damn, I hadn’t even heard this news until I came across this point. Like you I love Big Wednesday, I’ll probably did out the DVD and watch Jack, Matt and Leroy’s salad days again this week. It will be sad viewing, although I’m sure Matt’s in movie heaven riding waves at The Point as we speak.

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