In Memoriam: A Look Back At John Heard's Fantastic Career

John Heard's cause of death was a heart attack at the age of 71.
March 7, 2020 - 10:15 / Clemens Fanger

Character actor John Heard died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2017 from a heart attack. We take a look back at his life and the most important stages of his long acting career!

Born in 1956 in Washington, D.C., John Heard went to high school in Washington and attended Clark University in Massachusetts. Heard turned to acting in the early 1970's and during that decade mainly appeared in stage productions. His first official on-screen acting credit (out of 180 in total) was as "Mr. Harvie" in the 1975 TV movie Valley Forge.

John Heard in the 1981 movie 'Cutter's Way'.

In 1981, he got the starring role of Vietnam war veteran "Alex Cutter" in the thriller Cutter's Way and delivered one of the finest performances of his career alongside Jeff Bridges. He moved on to movie such as The Trip to Bountiful (1985), Heaven Help Us (1985) and Big (1988).

John Heard and Catherine O'Hara as "Harry" and "Kate McCallister" in Home Alone.

John Heard: "Peter McCallister" in Home Alone

In 1990, Heard played a supporting character, as he did so often, in the smash hit Home Alone as "Peter McCallister" (alongside Catherine O'Hara), who accidently leaves his son "Kevin" (Macaulay Culkin) behind as the family goes on Christmas holiday.

The movie became one of the biggest hits of 1990 and Heard reprised his role in the 1992 sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. In 1991, Heard starred alongside Goldie Hawn in the thriller Deceived and also had a role in the 1993 movie The Pelican Brief with Julia Roberts, Sam Shephard and Denzel Washington.

John Heard's later career

But it was not all feature films for the charismatic actor, he also had some great TV roles. For his portrayal of detective "Vin Makazian" in the popular HBO drama The Sopranos, he was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Guest Actor.

He also had a guest role in the popular show Prison Break from 2005 to 2006. His final acting credit came (posthumously) in the 2018 movie Imprisoned.

John Heard in the 1979 movie 'The Chilly Scenes of Winter'.

John Heard: His personal life

John Heard married fellow actress Margot Kidder in 1979 but they separated after just six days and were divorced the following year. Heard then had a child with his former girlfriend, the actress Melissa Leo, in 1987.

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He got married two his second wife Sharon in 1988 and the couple had two children. They were divorced in 1996. In 2010, Heard got married for the third time to Lana Pritchard but they also got a divorce after just seven months.

The talented character actor and father-of-three passed away after suffering a heart attack on July 21st 2017 - he was only just recovering from minor back surgery.