Perhaps not a household name but John Heard was a face that was recognisable but always easy to pin down as to what he’d been in apart from the Home Alone films which overshadowed much of his other work.
Born on 7th March 1946 in Washington his father worked for the Defence Secretary and his mother acted in community theatre. It was his mother trade that he would follow and after leaving high school he went on to study drama but left before he graduated as he was impatient to start acting professionally in regional theatre and off Broadway shows. His roles got him increasing attention notably as a gay soldier in the controversial play Streamers before he eventually started getting cast in films starting with the forgettable TV movie ‘Valley Forge’ in 1975 but came to attention playing a moody journalist in Between the Lines (1977). His breakout role though was in Cutters Way (1981) where he played a one eyed alcoholic Vietnam vet convinced of a business man involved in a murder. It was a film where he developed a reputation for being not the easiest of men to work with.
From there he appeared in a variety of genres including horror (CHUD, Cat People) and comedy ( Scorsese’s under rated After Hours) before moving into a string of TV shows that included Tales from the Darkside, & Miami Vice.
He worked with several name directors including Clint Eastwood and Brian DePalma and was really always a reliable supporting actor in well known films playing opposite Tom Hanks in Big, Macauley Culkin in Home Alone, Robert DeNiro in Awakenings, Clint Eastwood in In the Line of Fire and Nicolas Cage in Snake Eyes amongst others. But he worked increasingly in TV series such as Macgyver, CSI, and yes even, Sharknado.
But he was always in demand which probably took his mind off his troubled personal life where he was married three times all of which seemed tumultuous. His first marriage to Margot Kidder in 1979 lasted for only six days. His second marriage gave him two children Annika and Max (but tragically Max died last year). His third marriage to Lana Pritchard lasted seven months and he and Melissa Leo became partners but in 1997 he was found guilty of trespassing at their former home.
He died on 21st July 2017.