Irish actor Dan O’Herlihy, nominated for an Oscar in 1954 for his performance in Luis Bunuel’s “The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe,” has died at age 85 at his home in Malibu, California, a family spokesman said Friday.
An architecture student who turned to acting to earn money for college, O’Herlihy wound up working with Hollywood notables including Orson Welles, Gregory Peck and John Huston after being discovered by British director Carol Reed and cast opposite James Mason in the 1947 thriller “Odd Man Out.”
He appeared in more than 70 plays on the Dublin stage and played the lead in the original production of Sean O’Casey’s ”Red Roses for Me.”
He made his U.S. film debut in Orson Welles’ “Macbeth” in 1948, playing the role of Macduff.
His Academy Award Best Actor nomination for “Robinson Crusoe” was a career highlight, but one of his opponents that year was Marlon Brando, who won for his performance in “On the Waterfront.”
O’Herlihy had a long and varied career that included a lead role in John Huston’s film version of the James Joyce story “The Dead” in 1987 and playing Kennedy family patriarch Joe Kennedy in a TV film “The Rat Pack” in 1998.
He was the CEO of Omni Consumer Products in “RoboCop” in 1987 and its 1990 sequel, and a friendly alien lizard in 1984’s ”The Last Starfighter.”
Michael Druxman, a close friend, said O’Herlihy was famed for his sense of humor. He recalled O’Herlihy wearing the lizard costume as he drove home from the studio to see if anyone noticed.
He also played President Franklin Roosevelt in “MacArthur,” starring Gregory Peck, and appeared in several episodes of David Lynch’s TV series “Twin Peaks.”
He is survived by his wife, five children, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.