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Actor M. Emmet Walsh Dies at the Age of 88


M. Emmet Walsh in 'Outlaw Posse.'

M. Emmet Walsh in ‘Outlaw Posse.’ Photo: Quiver Distribution.


  • Actor M. Emmet Walsh has died at the age of 88.
  • He was known for movies such as ‘Blood Simple’ and ‘Blade Runner’.
  • ‘Knives Out’ director Rian Johnson is among those who have paid tribute.

M. Emmet Walsh, a reliable, fondly appreciated character actor known for corrupt cops, deadly crooks, and zany comedic performances, has died days short of his 89th birthday.

The actor’s manager Sandy Joseph and publicist Cynthia Snyder announced his death on Wednesday. Walsh died on Tuesday in St. Albans, Vermont, following cardiac arrest.

Here’s Snyder’s statement:

“In a remarkable career spanning six decades on stage, in film and television, he became widely recognized for his standout portrayals of such memorable characters.”

M. Emmet Walsh: Early Life and Career

M. Emmet Walsh in 'Critters.'

M. Emmet Walsh in ‘Critters.’ Photo: New Line Cinema.

Born in 1935 in Ogdensburg, New York, Walsh was raised in Vermont. He kicked off his acting career in typical fashion, with guest roles in TV series in the 1960s and 70s, but unlike some of his peers, he continued to juggle big and small screen jobs throughout his life (his most recent small screen appearance was 2022’s ‘American Gigolo’ series.)

Early TV gigs included small roles on shows such as ‘The Doctors’, ‘All in the Family’, ‘Ironside’ ‘Bonanza’, ‘The Waltons’, ‘The Rockford Files’ and the pilot of ‘The Bob Newhart Show’.

His first cinematic appearance was in an uncredited role in 1969’s ‘Midnight Cowboy’ but he got his initial credit on ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ the same year.

Related Article: ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ Oscar Winning Actor Alan Arkin Dies At The Age of 89

M. Emmet Walsh: Prolific Acting Work

Daniel Craig, M. Emmet Walsh and LaKeith Stanfield in 'Knives Out.'

(L to R) Daniel Craig, M. Emmet Walsh and LaKeith Stanfield in ‘Knives Out.’ Photo: Lionsgate.

From there, Walsh grew an incredibly prolific acting career thanks to his ability to knock supporting roles out of the park.

His credits are too many to list in one obituary, but he’ll be remembered for movies such as ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘Blood Simple’, ‘Raising Arizona’, ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’, ‘Fletch’, ‘Back to School’, ‘Critters’, ‘What’s Up, Doc?’ ‘Slap Shot’ and as the crazed sniper hunting Steve Martin in ‘The Jerk’.


“Meet the only guy who changes his identity more often than his underwear”


PG1 hr 38 minMay 31st, 1985

M. Emmet Walsh: Roger Ebert’s Rule

Walsh has long been considered a reliable supporting performer –– so reliable, in fact, that legendary movie critic Roger Ebert once coined the Stanton-Walsh Rule, which held that “no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad,” though he admitted it wasn’t an infallible rule.

Walsh had his own rule when it came to his career:

“I approach each job thinking it might be my last, so it better be the best work possible. I want to be remembered as a working actor. I’m being paid for what I’d do for nothing.”

M. Emmet Walsh: Tributes Paid

Director Rian Johnson, who worked with Walsh on ‘Knives Out’, was among those who paid tribute via social media:

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