Hollywood pays tribute to character actor Dick Miller, dead at 90
ComingSoon.net (via Variety) is sad to report that legendary character actor Dick Miller has passed away after just celebrating his 90th birthday last month. Miller was best known for his work with filmmakers Joe Dante and Roger Corman, having appeared in such films as Gremlins, A Bucket of Blood and The Terminator.
Born on Christmas Day 1928, Miller served in the United States Navy before heading to Broadway and eventually movies, where he got work in bit parts. In one of his earliest films, 1955’s Apache Woman, he played both a Native American character and the white townsperson who shoots that character!
Miller earned a rare leading role in Roger Corman’s 1959 comedic horror picture A Bucket of Blood playing Walter Paisley, a busboy who turns himself into a celebrated artist overnight by murdering people and covering them with clay, passing them off as sculptures. He went on to become a mainstay in Corman’s films, including classics like The Little Shop of Horrors, The Terror, X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes, The Wild Angels, Big Bad Mama and Death Race 2000.
In 1976 he appeared (again as a character named Walter Paisley) in Joe Dante’s directorial debut Hollywood Boulevard, and went on to appear in parts both big and small in nearly every Dante picture since including Piranha, The Howling, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Explorers, Innerspace, Amazon Women on the Moon, The ‘Burbs, Matinee, Small Soldiers, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Trapped Ashes, The Hole and Burying the Ex. His most famous role with Dante was the character of war vet Murray Futterman in 1984’s Gremlins and (despite his character being seemingly murdered in the first film) 1990’s Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
Other notable roles amid his impressive run of 182 credits include an unfortunate gun store owner opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1984’s The Terminator, Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York and After Hours, a police officer in Steven Spielberg’s 1941, small roles in Robert Zemeckis’ first two films I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Used Cars, the Tom Cruise vehicle All the Right Moves, cult horror films Chopping Mall, Night of the Creeps and Dead Heat, and the Tales From the Crypt movie Demon Knight. He also voiced roles on Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League Unlimited and the animated movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
In 2014 Dick Miller was the subject of a career retrospective documentary titled That Guy Dick Miller, which debuted to rave reviews at SXSW. He was also the subject of a 2018 biography by Caelum Vatnsdal titled “You Don’t Know Me, But You Love Me: The Lives of Dick Miller.” Miller is survived by his wife Lainie, daughter Barbara and granddaughter Autumn.
Here are what some of Dick Miller’s friends and admirers in Hollywood are saying about his passing…