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Star of 'Eraserhead' Found Dead After Fight

Violence: Jack Nance, who appeared in several David Lynch movies, was hit in the head the day before during a dispute.

January 04, 1997|KEN ELLINGWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Authorities said Friday that actor Jack Nance, star of the 1978 cult film "Eraserhead," was struck during a fight a day before he was discovered dead in his South Pasadena home.

The 53-year-old actor, whose full name was Marvin John Nance and who appeared in several David Lynch movies, was punched in the head during a fight with two men Sunday at a doughnut shop, said Deputy Mark Bailey of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department. The two men were described as Latinos in their early 20s.

Homicide detectives said Nance had blunt-force head injuries, but the cause of death has not been determined, Bailey said.

Nance was found dead Monday by a friend who stopped to check on him, police said. Witnesses saw the actor in a fight the previous morning at a doughnut shop near his home on Fair Oaks Avenue.

"Sometimes people irritated Jack, so he'd be verbally abusive," Lynch told reporters Friday. Lynch said Nance was in poor physical shape. "Jack always said he wouldn't be too hard to kill."

Nance made his film debut in Lynch's 1978 nightmarish cult classic "Eraserhead," playing a hapless misfit with towering hair and a girlfriend who gives birth to a half-human.

The Dallas-born Nance later appeared in other Lynch films, including "Dune" in 1984, "Blue Velvet" in 1986 and "Wild at Heart" in 1990.

In Lynch's television series "Twin Peaks," Nance played Pete Martell, the lumber mill foreman who discovers the body of a murdered homecoming queen.

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