JACK NANCE Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Marvin John Nance                                                                   
Born: 21 December 1943 Boston, Massachusetts, United States                               
Died: 30 December 1996 South Pasadena, California, United States                           
Marvin John Nance (December 21, 1943 – December 30, 1996), known professionally         
as Jack Nance and occasionally credited as John Nance, was an American stage and           
screen actor in offbeat or avant-garde film and theatre. He was known for his             
work with film director David Lynch in a lead role in the film Eraserhead and             
for his eccentric supporting roles in Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks.                         
Nance was born in Boston, Massachusetts and was raised in Dallas, Texas, where             
he graduated from South Oak Cliff High School. His father was the CEO of Neiman           
Marcus. He worked for some time with the American Conservatory Theater in San             
Francisco. In the 1970s, Nance met David Lynch, who cast him as the lead in               
Eraserhead. At the time, Nance was married to the actress Catherine E.                     
Coulson (the future Log Lady in Twin Peaks), but they divorced in 1976.                   
In his later years, Nance grew a small white moustache and was a distinctive               
presence in many films with his peculiar twisted smile and bug eyes. After                 
Eraserhead, Nance remained on good terms with Lynch, who cast him in nearly all           
of his projects:                                                                           
Dune (1984): a small role as the Harkonnen Captain Iakin Nefud.                           
Blue Velvet (1986): a supporting role as Paul, a friend of Dennis Hopper's                 
villain character.                                                                         
The Cowboy and the Frenchman (1988): plays Pete, one of the cowboys.                       
Wild at Heart (1990): a small role as '00 Spool'.                                         
Twin Peaks (1990-1991): co-starring role as Pete Martell, the henpecked sawmill           
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992): reprised his role as Peter Martell, but             
his scenes were deleted.                                                                   
Lost Highway (1997): a small role as a garage mechanic named Phil (his final               
acting role).                                                                             
Nance also guest-starred on a 1995 episode of My So-Called Life entitled "Weekend."       
He played an innkeeper. Jack Nance also made a cameo appearance with actress               
Mary Woronov in the 1983 Suicidal Tendencies Institutionalized music video.               
Nance was married to Kelly Jean Van Dyke in May 1991. Kelly was the daughter of           
Coach star Jerry Van Dyke. Van Dyke committed suicide by hanging on November 17,           
1991. According to Nance's brother, Nance, who was at Yosemite filming Meatballs           
4 at the time, attempted to console her on the phone as she threatened suicide.           
Supposedly a lightning storm knocked out the phones in Oregon, eventually taking           
over 45 minutes for Nance and the director to find a deputy sheriff who                   
contacted LA police and the apartment manager. They broke in and found that she           
had hanged herself.                                                                       
Nance died in South Pasadena, California on December 30, 1996 under mysterious             
circumstances. Nance claimed to have been involved in a brawl outside a Winchell's         
Donuts on the morning of December 29. It is unclear if he was still drunk from             
the previous night, or if he had already begun drinking that morning, but it is           
certain that he was intoxicated at the time. He would later tell friends that he           
had "'popped-off' to a couple of Latino guys in the parking lot at 5am that day.           
He told them to get a haircut and a job. One of them socked him in the eye, his           
glasses flew off and he went down."                                                       
Later that day, he lunched with friends Leo Bulgarini and Catherine Case. Nance           
had a visible "crescent shaped bruise" under his eye and when asked about it,             
related to them the story about the fight. He soon went home, complaining of a             
headache. The injuries he received caused a subdural hematoma, resulting in his           
death the following morning. Nance died alone in his apartment. His body was               
discovered on the bathroom floor by Bulgarini. An autopsy revealed that the               
actor's blood alcohol level was .24 at the time of his death, three times the             
legal limit for driving.                                                                   
However, some are skeptical about the factuality of the fight. One police                 
investigator who worked on the case doubts that the scuffle ever happened, and             
it was "more likely that Nance just got drunk and banged his head."                       
Acquaintances note that Nance was a notoriously late sleeper and was rarely ever           
awake at the time he claimed the altercation took place, and that the                     
circumstances of his death were most unusual.