|Was||Actor Film producer Singer Television actor Film actor|
|From||United States of America|
|Field||Film, TV, Stage & Radio Music|
|Birth||24 April 1940, Corona, USA|
|Death||9 May 2017, Los Angeles, USA (aged 77 years)|
Michael Parks (born Harry Samuel Parks; April 24, 1940 – May 9, 2017) was an American singer and actor. He appeared in many films and made frequent television appearances, notably starring in the 1969–70 series Then Came Bronson, but was probably best known for his work in his later years with filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Smith.
As of 2018–2019, Kevin Smith was producing a documentary on Michael's life titled Long Lonesome Highway, The Story of Michael Parks. It stars James Parks, Kurt Russell, Haley Joel Osment, Robert Rodriguez, Leonard Maltin, Mickey Rourke, Justin Long, Wyatt Russell, Mark Frost, and more.
Parks was born in Corona, California.
He drifted from job to job during his teenage years, including picking fruit, digging ditches, driving trucks, and fighting forest fires.
His first marriage at age 16 to Louise Johnson produced a daughter. His second marriage in 1964 to actress Jan Moriarty lasted only a few months, ending with her apparent suicide from an overdose. His third marriage produced a son, James. After living in New Orleans in the 1980s and ending his fourth marriage in 1991, he moved back to California. In 1997 he married Oriana. The union lasted until his death.
In 1961, Parks portrayed the nephew of the character George MacMichael on the ABC sitcom The Real McCoys. He appeared with Bette Davis as Cal Leonard in the 1963 Perry Mason episode "The Case of Constant Doyle", and gained recognition in the role of Adam in John Huston's The Bible: In the Beginning... (1966).
Parks was the star of the series Then Came Bronson from 1969 to 1970. He sang "Wayfarin’ Stranger", a duet with pilot episode co-star Bonnie Bedelia, and later the theme song for the show, "Long Lonesome Highway", which became a No. 20 Billboard Hot 100 and No. 41 Hot Country Songs hit. Albums he recorded under MGM Records (the label of the studio which produced the series) include Closing The Gap (1969), Long Lonesome Highway (1970), and Blue. He had various records of songs included on these albums.
After disputes with the producers of Bronson, Parks said he was informally blacklisted in Hollywood. Parks admitted he could be "difficult on the set" and also said he objected to producers wanting to make the series more violent. After the cancellation of Bronson Parks didn't work in a major Hollywood production for several years but had regular small roles in independent or Canadian features throughout the 1970s.
He played in twelve episodes of ABC's The Colbys, a spin-off from Dynasty, first as Hoyt Parker, and then Phillip Colby during the second season (1986–1987). He appeared as Irish mob boss Tommy O'Shea in Death Wish V: The Face of Death (1994), French-Canadian drug runner Jean Renault in the ABC television series Twin Peaks, Dr. Banyard in Deceiver (1997), Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in From Dusk till Dawn (1996), and Ambrose Bierce in From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter (2000).
Parks played two roles in the Kill Bill film series, reprising the role of Earl McGraw in the first film (2003) and playing pimp Esteban Vihaio in the second film (2004). He reprised the role of Earl McGraw in both segments of the film Grindhouse (2007). His son, James Parks, played the son of Earl McGraw in Kill Bill, From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, Death Proof and Planet Terror. Parks played a villain in Kevin Smith's horror films Red State (2011) and Tusk (2014).
Smith later announced on his podcast that Parks had recorded an album during Red State's production, after Smith and producer Jon Gordon noticed his singing talent during filming. The album, titled The Red State Sessions, was released on August 15, 2011 as a download from the film's website.
Death and reaction
Parks died on May 9, 2017, in his Los Angeles home at the age of 77. He requested a full body burial at sea which his wife attended alone. The public memorial service was held at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
Upon hearing the news, director Kevin Smith posted on his Instagram account "Michael was, and will likely forever remain, the best actor I've ever known. I wrote both Red State and Tusk for Parks, I loved his acting so much." He also included, "He was, hands-down, the most incredible thespian I ever had the pleasure to watch perform. And Parks brought out the absolute best in me every time he got near my set." In a Twitter post, director Robert Rodriguez referred to Michael Parks as "a true legend".
Kevin Smith is producing a documentary on the life and times of Michael Parks, directed by Michael's former assistant, Josh Roush. Long Lonesome Highway covers his beginnings as an itinerant farmer where he hopped boxcars at age 12, through being blacklisted in Hollywood, to his career resurgence at the hands of filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino.Hunters of the Reef (1978) Jim Spanner - Sea Captain Salvage Crew
- 1969 – Closing The Gap (MGM)
- 1970 – Long Lonesome Highway (MGM)
- 1970 – Blue (MGM)
- 1970 – Lost & Found (Verve)
- 1971 – Best Of Michael Parks (MGM)
- 1981 – You Don't Know Me (First American)
- 1998 – Coolin' Soup (Listen)
- 2011 – The Red State Sessions (SModcast)
- Singles include Long Lonesome Highway/Mountain High (MGM K 14104); Big "T" Water/Won't You Ride in My Little Red Wagon (MGM K 14363); Tie Me To Your Apron Strings Again (MGM K 14092); Sally/Spend A Little, Save A Little, Give A Little Away (MGM K 14154) (all from 1970).