Character actor Tom Towles, a regular in Rob Zombie films who also played a murderous sidekick in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, has died, the writer-director said. He was 65.
Zombie announced Towles’ death Sunday on Facebook. “I just got word that our buddy Tom Towles has died,” he wrote. “He was such a great guy and I am so grateful that we got to work together several times. He will be really missed.”
Tammy Dupal of TnT Talent Management, which represented Towles, told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday that the actor died April 2 at a hospital in Pinellas, Fla., after suffering a stroke four days earlier.
“He will always be remembered for his contagious smile and outstanding love for his family, friends and fans,” a statement on the TnT website said. “Few knew the soft-hearted man that lived inside that tough exterior."
The Chicago native also starred as Harry Cooper, one of the people trapped in the farmhouse and the father whose young daughter becomes a zombie, in the remake of Night of the Living Dead (1990).
Later, Towles portrayed Lieutenant George Wydell, who was shot by Karen Black’s character, in Zombie’s first film as writer-director, House of 1,000 Corpses (2003). He also teamed with the musician turned filmmaker in The Devil’s Rejects (2005), the reimagining of Halloween (2007) and in a segment of Grindhouse (2007).
In the low-budget Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), directed by John McNaughton, Towles played Otis opposite Michael Rooker as the title character. Towles’ psychopath was based on real-life serial killer Ottis Toole, who admitted to the 1981 decapitation of the 6-year-old son of John Walsh. (Walsh in 1988 had created the Fox show America’s Most Wanted in a bid to catch the killer of his boy.)
Towles also was in such horror films as the remake of The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), McNaughton’s The Borrower (1991), Home Sick (2007) and Blood on the Highway (2008).
Towles also could be seen in Dog Day Afternoon (1975) — his first screen credit — The Rock (1996), Gridlock'd (1997), More Dogs Than Bones (2000) and Michael Mann’s Miami Vice (2006).
On television, Towles guest-starred on such series as Seinfeld, NYPD Blue, L.A. Law, ER, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Firefly.
Survivors include his sister Kai and niece Laine. A private memorial service is being planned.
April 6, 8:28 a.m. and 9:44 a.m. Updated with additional details of Towles' death.