His first film was ‘In the Heat of the Night,’ and he also stood out in ‘The Ninth Configuration,’ ‘Dead Man Walking’ and ‘Monster.’
Scott Wilson, the Georgia-born actor admired for the intensity he demonstrated in such dark, disturbing projects as In Cold Blood, The Walking Dead and The Ninth Configuration, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 76.
Details were not immediately available, but the official Twitter account for the Walking Dead comic book, on which the popular AMC show of the same name is based, confirmed the news Saturday. “We are deeply saddened to report that Scott Wilson, the incredible actor who played Hershel on #TheWalkingDead, has passed away at the age of 76,” the statement read. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest in paradise, Scott. We love you.”
At New York Comic-Con 2018, Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang announced that Wilson would reprise his role as Hershel in season nine — which premieres Sunday — though she offered no word on the timing of his appearance or how many episodes in which he was slated to appear. However, sources have confirmed that Wilson had filmed some scenes. The announcement was made a little more than an hour before news of Wilson’s passing spread on social media.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for AMC said: “Scott will always be remembered as a great actor, and we all feel fortunate to have known him as an even better person. The character he embodied on The Walking Dead, Hershel, lived at the emotional core of the show. Like Scott in our lives, Hershel was a character whose actions continue to inform our characters’ choices to this day. Our hearts go out to his wife, family, friends and to the millions of fans who loved him. Scott will be missed.”
CSI fans know Wilson as the crooked Las Vegas casino owner Sam Braun, the father of Marg Helgenberger’s Catherine Willows, and he played the troubled neighbor Judd Travers in the three Shiloh family films released in 1996, 1999 and 2006.
Wilson also was memorable in The Great Gatsby (1974), where his character, the owner of a filling station, shoots and kills Jay Gatsby (Robert Redford) while he’s lounging in his mansion swimming pool, then turns the gun on himself. He often brought anxiety and melancholy to his roles.
After portraying the murder suspect Harvey Oberst in his first feature, the best picture Oscar winner In the Heat of the Night (1967), Wilson was cast as real-life murderer Dick Hickock for In Cold Blood (1967). The chilling documentary-like drama was directed by Richard Brooks, who also adapted Truman Capote’s sensational 1965 best-selling novel for the screenplay.
Hickock had met fellow drifter Perry Smith (played by Robert Blake in the film) in jail, and after they were paroled, they headed to a farm in Holcomb, Kansas, for a robbery. Finding little cash on hand, they killed four members of the Clutter family — the husband, wife and two of their teenage children — in 1959. (The pair spoke with Capote for the book before being executed in 1965).