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John Heard, Star of ‘Home Alone’ and ‘Big,’ Dies at 72

John Heard
Mark Mainz, Getty Images

For many people who grew up in the 1990s, Home Alone is a film that ages alongside them. When you’re a child, you feel an immediate kinship with Macaulay Culkin’s Kevin, sharing in his delight at being able to run around the house entirely rule-free. The older you get, though, the more you find yourself goggling at the actions of John Heard and Catherine O’Hara‘s parents. How on earth could they manage to leave their youngest child behind? Why do I still feel so sympathetic towards them even after all that? Wait, was it really that easy to breeze through airport security in the ‘90s?

And it is this iconic film that will undoubtedly come to mind for most millennials when they think of John Heard, who was found dead in his hotel room this morning after recovering from back surgery (via Variety). In recent years, Heard had worked pretty exclusively in basic cable television shows and low-budget films, as likely to show up in a movie like Uwe Boll‘s Assault on Wall Street as he was an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles. That does nothing to take away from the impressive beginning to the actor’s career, where Heard moved between prestige work, comedy, and horror films as easily as anyone who has come before or afterwards.

Heard had previously worked with luminary filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese (After Hours) and Paul Schrader (Cat People), starred in beloved ‘80s films such as Beaches and Big, and even played anchored a contemporary cult classic, 1984’s C.H.U.D. (better known as Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers). Heard did finally receive some acknowledgement for his talent as an actor in 1999, when he was nominated for an Emmy award for role as Detective Vin Makazian in The Sopranos. Still, to countless people out there, Heard will remain the lovably fatigued father in Home Alone, and there’s nothing wrong with a legacy like that.

See the Cast of ‘Big’ Then and Now

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