M. Emmet Walsh, ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘Blood Simple’ actor, dead at 88

M. Emmet Walsh

Actor M. Emmet Walsh, who played quirky and menacing roles in films like “Blade Runner,” “Blood Simple,” “The Jerk” and “Fletch,” died Tuesday. He was 88.

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Walsh died at a hospital in St. Albans, Vermont, The Washington Post reported. The cause was cardiac arrest, his manager, Sandy Joseph, told the newspaper.

Walsh played Harrison Ford’s boss at the Los Angeles Police Department in the 1982 film “Blade Runner,” Variety reported. Two years later, he played Loren Visser, a vicious private detective, in “Blood Simple.”

Walsh’s roles also extended to comedy, where he played a deranged sniper in the 1979 film, “The Jerk,” the Post reported. He also played an exam room doctor in the 1985 film, “Fletch” and was a vicious parole officer in the 1978 crime drama “Straight Time” (1978).

His other roles included playing a corrupt sheriff in the 1986 horror film “Critters” and as security guard Mr. Proofroc in 2019′s “Knives Out.” He also appeared in the 1977 sports film, “Slap Shot,” as cynical sportswriter Dickie Dunn, who was “Just trying to capture the spirit of the thing,” according to

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

USA Today film critic Mike Clark once wrote that a typical character played by Walsh was “a cesspool in a flowered shirt.”

Walsh began his screen career in guest roles on late 1960s television series before landing parts in films like “Alice’s Restaurant,” “Little Big Man” and “Escape from the Planet of the Apes,” Deadline reported.

On television he appeared in episodes of “Bonanza,” “All in the Family,” “Ironside,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “McMillan & Wife,” “The Rockford Files,” “The Waltons,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “James at 16″ and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” according to the entertainment news website.

He also voiced the Cosmic Owl on the children’s cartoon “Adventure Time.” Other voice roles included his narration of Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” and “Baseball” documentaries, Variety reported. He also voiced “The Iron Giant” and “Pound Puppies.”

Michael Emmet Walsh was born in Ogdensburg, New York, on March 22, 1935, and grew up in Swanton, Vermont, according to the Post.

“It’s a good life being a character actor,” Walsh once told the Orange County Register. “I’ve been around stardom. I’ve been around (Robert) Redford and (Dustin) Hoffman, and it’s scary. That drive for stardom is like the greyhounds chasing the mechanical rabbit.

“By the time he catches him, he’s too tired to run anymore, and you’ve got to shoot him.”