Just last night, the wifey and I were speaking about my collection of DVDs regarding Science Fiction and Fantasy; and I had remarked how the latest release of Tremors (1990) from Arrow Video was a keeper. I had just been thinking about the man's incredible performance in that brilliant film, and now not even twenty-fours later he's gone. Argh. This one hurts.
Ward -- for what this is worth -- always came across as a blue-collar type of actor to me. I've not read anything about his background and professional study, but he just always possessed a kind of likable earnestness to him on screen. His genre credentials are the stuff of small(ish) legend, and I'll recount them below.
In 1979, he enjoyed a pair of visits (in different roles) to television's popular The Incredible Hulk series -- still one of the best serialized TV shows ever. In 1982, fans of SciFi/Camp were thrilled with his work in Timerider: The Adventure Of Lyle Swann, the yarn of a modern day motorcycle rider who found himself thrown back into the days of the Wild West well before Marty McFly and Doc Brown double-backed there. But it was probably his work in 1985's Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins that truly put him on the genre map. This big screen adaptation of 'The Destroyer' series of novels was thought to be a potential franchise for the man, but alas it wasn't meant to be. (There are indications that a second film was planned -- or perhaps did evolve into a telefilm of some type -- but I'm coming up empty on research.)
Then came Tremors (1990) ... and I guess I thought at the time such an inspired performance as one of the big leads would've led to more opportunities for the actor. It's hard to say specifically -- I know that, in its original run, the movie really underperformed and it wasn't until the home video release that it truly took off -- but I guess if silver screen success were that easy everyone would find it. Stilll, it's some genius work in a genius film, and I encourage everyone to check it out if you haven't already.
As always, thoughts and prayers are extended to the family and friends of Mr. Ward.