Celebrating Seniors – Dean Stockwell is 81
Update January 2017: Dean Stockwell’s wife Joy Stockwell advised that Dean Stockwell is now retired from acting, and has recovered from a stroke he suffered in 2015. She also confirmed that Dean’s birthday is March 5, 1936 (not 1935 as previously stated) and he will turn 81 on March 5, 2017.
Emmy Award-winning actor and new octogenarian senior citizen Dean Stockwell was born March 5, 1936 in North Hollywood, California and has been an actor for more than 70 years. His parents – mother Nina Olivette and father Harry Stockwell – and his older brother Guy Stockwell, were all actors. His father and mother separated when Dean was 6 years old, and he began working as a child actor at the age of 7.
Dean Stockwell was soon under contract to MGM and began his movie acting career in 1945, appearing in 3 movies released that year:
- The Valley of Decision, starring Greer Garson, Gregory Peck, and Marsha Hunt.
- Anchors Aweigh, starring Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, and Gene Kelly.
- Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Hollywood, starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
Right, 12-year-old Dean Stockwell and 20-year-old Colleen Townsend waiting for movie contract approval in a Los Angeles court. (1949 Photo: Los Angeles Times photographic archive | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
Dean Stockwell won the Golden Globe for Best Juvenile Actor in Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), produced by Daryl F Zanuck, directed by Elia Kazan, and screenplay written by Moss Hart. The movie stars in Gentleman’s Agreement included Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield, Celeste Holm, June Havoc, Jane Wyatt, and Dean Stockwell.
Despite his talent and success as a child actor, Stockwell has said that it was not an enjoyable time for him.
An notable exception to this was his experience on set with Errol Flynn while they filmed the movie Kim (1950). Young teenager Dean Stockwell looked up to Flynn in the absence of his own father, and has said observing and talking to Erroll Flynn gave him his earliest insights into manhood and sex. The photo at right – with Errol Flynn’s arm around a young Stockwell – reflects their off-screen friendship while filming the movie.
Errol Flynn and Dean Stockwell in Kim. (Photo: Turner Classic Movies | forums.tcm.com)
Dean Stockwell attended the Little Red Schoolhouse on the MGM lot along with classmates Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Powell, Roddy McDowall, and Russ Tamblyn, who would become a long-time friend. The young stars socialized in and out of the classroom and formed lifelong friendships. Below, the photo of Elizabeth Taylor’s high school graduation on the set of the MGM movie Father of the Bride (1950) captures the camaraderie of their schooldays there.
Left to right: Claude Jarman Jr., Russ Tamblyn, Dean Stockwell, Tom Irish, Jane Powell, Elizabeth Taylor. (Photo: listal.com)
After graduating from Alexander Hamilton High School, Dean Stockwell attended the University of California at Berkeley for a year under the name of George Stockwell. While there, Stockwell explored his interests in the areas of artwork (he does digital collages) and composing music, before dropping out to return to working in the movies. He made his television debut in 1956, in Matinee Theatre, and appeared on the popular television series Wagon Train 4 times between 1957-1961.
Photoplay Magazine ran an article in December 1959 which detailed the arrival of young actress Millie Perkins in Hollywood in January of 1958 to begin filming the movie The Diary of Anne Frank (1959). 23-year-old Dean Stockwell was completing his run in the stage play Compulsion when he met Millie at a dinner party in April of 1958. Millie and Dean Stockwell began dating and were engaged in August of that year.
By early 1960, Dean Stockwell had gotten married to Millie Perkins (in April of that year), and won his first Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival for his role in the dramatic movie Compulsion (1959). He’d also completed filming the movie Sons and Lovers (1960), for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
Dean Stockwell in Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962).
Their marriage was short-lived; Dean Stockwell and Millie Perkins were divorced in July 1962. That same year, Dean Stockwell won his second Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival, for the movie Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962). During the filming of Long Day’s Journey Into Night, co-star Katharine Hepburn chastised Stockwell about his drinking. Despite this, his performance in Long Day’s Journey Into Night was critically acclaimed, along with the rest of the cast.
Throughout the rest of the 1960’s, Dean Stockwell’s baby boomer fans saw him appearing less frequently on the big-screen and in television. He spent much of his time exploring drugs and drinking, living the hippie lifestyle. He struck up a friendship with Canadian musician and fellow Topanga Canyon resident Neil Young in the late 1960’s, after Young came across a copy of a screenplay written by Dean Stockwell titled After The Goldrush. Neil Young was inspired to write the songs for his iconic album, After the Goldrush (1970), and invited Stockwell to be present during the recording of the album. Dean Stockwell would later design the album cover art for Neil Young‘s album Stars ‘N Bars (1977).
Dean Stockwell, Neil Young, and Stockwell’s friend Russ Tamblyn collaborated on the 1982 movie Human Highway together. From all reports a wild atmosphere pervaded the filming of Human Highway, both on an off set; Jerry Casale of the band Devo told Rolling Stone Magazine that Stockwell was often either drunk or stoned (or both).
During the 1970’s and early 1980’s, although he did work on television and in the movies, Dean Stockwell’s career languished; at one point he worked as a real estate broker. His personal life began to improve when he met textiles expert Joy Marchenko in Cannes. Stockwell told People Magazine in a 1985 interview that since Joy Marchenko lived in Morocco, for the next 5 years they communicated via phone and letters. Joy Marchenko visited Dean Stockwell in L.A. in 1981 and ended up staying; they married in December of that year.
Son Austin Stockwell was born in November 1983 and daughter Sophia Stockwell was born in August 1985.
Happier now on the home front, Dean Stockwell’s career also started to improve in the mid-1980’s. He began to get small roles in bigger movies such as Paris, Texas (1984); Dune (1984); The Legend of Billie Jean (1985), and To Live and Die in L.A. (1985).
By the beginning of 1986, 50+ Dean Stockwell had acquired a resume of 49 movie credits, and his career was enjoying revival. During the next 5 years he appeared in 14 movies including Blue Velvet (1986), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), and Married to the Mob (1989), for which he received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Below, the movie trailer for Married to the Mob features Dean Stockwell and his co-stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Alec Baldwinn, Dean Stockwell, Matthew Modine, Mercedes Ruehl, Tracey Walter, and others.
Next was a co-starring role in the popular television series Quantum Leap (1989-1993). Dean Stockwell won 3 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (1990-1993) for his performances in Quantum Leap. In the 1990 Golden Globes clip below, Dean Stockwell accepts the Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Quantum Leap, Dean Stockwell thanks his mother and his wife Joy who is shown in the audience.
His 55+ years were equally busy; between 1991-2000, Dean Stockwell acted in another 21 movies including the box office hits Air Force One (1997), The Rainmaker (1997), Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000).
During the early 1990’s his television appearances were primarily in made-for-television movies such as Bonanza: The Return (1993). In the latter half of the 90’s, in addition to guest starring roles on television series, Stockwell appeared on 14 episodes of The Tony Danza Show (1997-1998) as Frank DiMeo.
Dean Stockwell had 5 movies released in 2001, a significant output for a new senior citizen. Since appearing in Inferno (2002), the pace of his work has slowed down.
A recurring role as Senator Edward Sheffield began in 2002 on the television series JAG for 11 episodes, and continued onto a spin-off First Monday for another 3 episodes that year. That same year his movie The Manchurian Candidate (2004) was released.
As a septuagenarian senior citizen, Dean Stockwell has appeared in 7 movies between 2006-2015, and was on 14 episodes of the popular television series Battlestar Galactica between 2006-2009.
Dean Stockwell’s most recent television appearance was as a septuagenarian senior citizen in 2014 on NCIS: New Orleans as Tom Hamilton.
His fans could see him on the big screen in 2014’s Deep in the Darkness and the movie Entertainment (2015). After suffering a stroke in 2015, Dean Stockwell retired and has not appeared in any new films. Below, Dean Stockwell and other cast members are featured in the movie trailer for Deep in the Darkness (2014).
Happy 81st Birthday, Dean Stockwell!
Baby boomer Anita Hamilton lives in Hamilton, Ontario with her family and 3 mini-dachshund minions. She’s a lifelong voracious reader who enjoys researching and has extensive experience in sales, marketing and copy writing. Senior City was inspired when she had difficulty finding local housing, products and services online for her elderly parents.