The Legendary Dean Stockwell, Quantum Leap’s Al, Dies at 85
While many will recognize Stockwell in the role that made him a household name, Admiral Al Calavicci on Quantum Leap, Stockwell’s career spanned more than seventy years since his start as a child actor. His face was well-known in both film and television mediums, and he brought personality and panache to any role he undertook. He was a scene-stealer, and whenever you saw Stockwell onscreen, you knew you were about to see a captivating performance full of charisma.
The role of Al on Quantum Leap will likely be remembered as Stockwell’s legacy part. But he also many, many other memorable turns, including in David Lynch’s Dune as Dr. Yueh; he would work with Lynch again as Ben in Blue Velvet, crooning Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams.” The mafia comedy film Married to the Mob netted Stockwell a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. He also appeared as Brother Cavil in Sci Fi’s Battlestar Galactica revival.
Quantum Leap, which ran on NBC for five seasons from 1989-1993, saw Scott Bakula’s Dr. Sam Beckett traveling through spacetime to different points in history. Stockwell played Al Calavicci, his cigar-smoking, always-entertaining best friend, who appears to Sam as a hologram and helps advise him with the aid of the trusty artificial intelligence Ziggy. The interactions between Sam and Al proved to be the heart of the popular show, and Stockwell earned several Emmy nominations and won a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe in 1990.
It’s hard to imagine anyone else pulling off Al with such humor and style, and turning him into such an iconic character.
RIP Dean Stockwell, a legend of sci-fi who pulled out fit after fit after fit in Quantum Leap pic.twitter.com/KneexBVRKp
— postdad: Season 2 (@postingdad) November 9, 2021
Stockwell would later guest star on Star Trek: Enterprise, which starred Bakula, in an appearance that had some winking nods to Al Calavicci.
Dean Stockwell reunites with his “Quantum Leap” co-star Scott Bakula in 2002’s “Detained,” playing Colonel Grat, a radical anti-Suliban military leader.#StarTrek #StarTrekEnterprise #QuantumLeap #DeanStockwell pic.twitter.com/dwaezYodMV
— TrekCore.com 🖖 (@TrekCore) November 9, 2021
As recently as September 2021, Bakula discussed the ongoing conversations about a Quantum Leap reboot on actor Bob Saget’s podcast. Per Deadline, “Asked by Saget why Bakula and Stockwell can’t do the show ‘now,’ Bakula quips, ‘Dean costs too much money.’”
Stockwell lead a long, celebrated, and fascinating life, pursuing visual art in addition to his wide and varied career on stage and screen. A longtime friend of musician Neil Young, he co-directed a film with Young and designed the cover art for Young’s album American Stars ‘n Bars in 1977.
Tributes have poured in for Stockwell on social media from those who knew him and those who fell in love with his work.
Dean. My oldest friend. A godfather-figure to my daughter, Amber. Brilliant artist. Loving dad. We met on the set of The Boy With Green Hair, stayed close til his last breath.
— Russ Tamblyn (@RussTamblyn) November 9, 2021
Goodnight, Dean Stockwell (1937-2021) 💙
Here’s the legendary actor in two of his iconic performances: Walt Henderson in PARIS, TEXAS (1984) and Ben in BLUE VELVET (1986). pic.twitter.com/yGGqBFyg3p
— Criterion Collection (@Criterion) November 9, 2021
Dean Stockwell was one of the greatest actors of his generation. Less showboaty and affected than many of his more famous contemporaries, but often more nuanced and interesting. I wanted him badly for my Showbiz Kids doc but he politely refused, he was done with the camera. RIP https://t.co/Xb4A92VzRv
— Alex Winter (@Winter) November 9, 2021
Vale the great Dean Stockwell. pic.twitter.com/NZtyAlri8O
— Lee Zachariah (@leezachariah) November 9, 2021
A true giant of a human being has passed. I was so fortunate to have worked with him on Miami Vice and Battlestar. I will cherish the years we spent together He was a gift to all who truly knew him. #RIP #SoSayWeAll https://t.co/PBYvOKUczA
— Edward James Olmos (@edwardjolmos) November 9, 2021
“A candy coloured clown they call the sandman.” Vale Dean Stockwell, dead at 85. I can’t think of a single movie or TV series he performed in that he wasn’t great. pic.twitter.com/jUM8oXWGOU
— Andrew Nette (@Pulpcurry) November 9, 2021
I think Dean Stockwell was probably the first actor I ever loved, he was just so goddamned suave on Quantum Leap. Then you get older and see him pop up all over and realize he was actually one of the greatest character actors of all time. What a legacy! RIP pic.twitter.com/5MMIX77TrO
— Mr Howard (@MrHoward) November 9, 2021
There are no words to express the loss & sadness I feel w/Dean Stockwell’s passing. I had always admired him & was totally overwhelmed when he turned out to be one of the kindest, talented, nice people I would ever work w/in Hollywood. There aren’t that many I can say that about. pic.twitter.com/j1vifnqIhH
— Jean-Pierre Dorléac (@spclsmthin) November 9, 2021
RIP to Dean Stockwell, star of the single greatest scene in the history of cinema. See you in my dreams, Mr. Sandman. 💜 pic.twitter.com/a2cmlndXDq
— Dan Hassler-Forest (@DanHF) November 9, 2021
Rest in Peace Dean Stockwell. 💖 What an amazing actor. He always had a mischevious glint of humor in his eyes. I was honored to work with him in the pilot for “Quantum Leap” at @NBCUniversal along with Scott Bakula. #deanstockwell pic.twitter.com/clTJUvNx54
— Lydia Cornell (@LydiaCornell) November 9, 2021
Dean Stockwell was the coolest. Such a privilege to have worked with this legend. His career spanned 70 years!
RIP, Dean. 🙏🏼
— Ming-Na Wen (@MingNa) November 9, 2021
Rest easy, sir.
Just a few more tweets.
He worked with Wellman, Losey, Henry King, Garnett, Hathaway, Tourneur, Oboler, Fleischer, Hopper, Ginsberg, Wenders, Lynch, Friedkin, Tony Scott, Altman, Coppola, Demme, and so many more. The last real link.
I love you Dean Stockwell. Thank you for all the movies.
— gina telaroli (@GinaTelaroli) November 9, 2021
The Quantum Leap generation (those of us who would stay up late on Wednesday nights and be WRECKED the next day) will forever remember Dean Stockwell for absolutely killing it in a metallic puffy coat.
Al was a true fashion icon. RIP, sir. pic.twitter.com/xPu2aJHha3
— Geraldine (@everywhereist) November 9, 2021
How Dean Stockwell got cast in DUNE, from a 1995 interview with Psychotronic Video: pic.twitter.com/3gcy9GsrKZ
— Paul Duane 🍥 (@paulduanefilm) November 9, 2021
Remembering Dean Stockwell who has passed away at the age of 85.
Here he is performing Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet pic.twitter.com/2UQvIRTaij
— Amanda (@DuganAmanda) November 9, 2021
Gutted that we’ve lost Dean Stockwell. A terrific kid star at MGM; a hottie holding his own vs Welles, Robards and Kate Hepburn; then – via Quantum Leap – an everyman, moral vacuum and weirdo for Wenders, Friedkin and Lynch. He could steal films – or just fit perfectly. A legend. pic.twitter.com/4d95iuzmzg
— Rick Burin (@rickburin) November 9, 2021
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