Updated March 21st, 2024 at 10:18 IST

M Emmet Walsh, Blood Simple Actor, Dies Due To Cardiac Arrest At 88

M Emmet Walsh died from cardiac arrest on Tuesday at a hospital in St. Albans, Vermont, confirmed his manager Sandy Joseph.

A file photo of M. Emmet Walsh | Image:Instagram
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M. Emmet Walsh, the actor who brought his unmistakable face and unsettling presence to movies, including Blood Simple and Blade Runner, has died at age 88, his manager Sandy Joseph confirmed on Wednesday. Walsh died from cardiac arrest on Tuesday at a hospital in St. Albans, Vermont.

Who was M Emmet Walsh?

Born Michael Emmet Walsh, his character led people to believe he was from the American South, but he could hardly have been from any further north. Walsh was raised on Lake Champlain in Swanton, Vermont, just a few miles from the U.S.-Canadian border, where his grandfather, father and brother worked as customs officers. He went to a local high school with a graduating class of 13, then to Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. He acted exclusively on the stage, with no intention of doing otherwise, for a decade, working in summer stock and repertory companies.

Walsh often played the role of good old boys with bad intentions, as he did in one of his rare leading roles as a crooked Texas private detective in the Coen brothers’ first film, the 1984 neo-noir Blood Simple. He started his acting career in 1969 with a small role in Alice’s Restaurant and nearly a decade after when he was in his 40s, he started playing prominent roles. He got his breakthrough with 1978’s Straight Time, in which he played Dustin Hoffman's smug, boorish parole officer.

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When M. Emmet Walsh's fees spiked after his performance in Blood Simple

Walsh was shooting Silkwood with Meryl Streep in Dallas in the autumn of 1982 when he got the offer for Blood Simple from the Coen brothers, then-aspiring filmmakers who had seen and loved him in Straight Time. “My agent called with a script written by some kids for a low-budget movie,” Walsh told The Guardian in 2017. “It was a Sydney Greenstreet kind of role, with a Panama suit and the hat. I thought it was kinda fun and interesting. They were 100 miles away in Austin, so I went down there early one day before shooting.”

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Walsh said the filmmakers didn't even have enough money left to fly him to New York for the opening, but he would be stunned that first-time filmmakers had produced something so good. “I saw it three or four days later when it opened in LA, and I was, like: Wow!" he said. "Suddenly my price went up five times. I was the guy everybody wanted.”

Meanwhile, he has more than 100 film credits including director Rian Johnson’s 2019 family murder mystery, Knives Out and director Mario Van Peebles' Western Outlaw Posse, released this year.

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With inputs from AP

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Published March 21st, 2024 at 10:18 IST