'Untouchables' Actor and 'Unsolved Mysteries' Host Robert Stack Dies
rest in peace, robert.
'Untouchables' Actor Robert Stack Dies
Thu May 15, 8:55 PM ET
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By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Robert Stack, who battled TV gangsters as the famed crime-fighter Eliot Ness in "The Untouchables" and helped bring real-life fugitives to justice as host of "Unsolved Mysteries," has died at age 84, his agent said on Thursday.
The actor, who had recently completed chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer, was found dead of a heart attack in the living room of his Bel Air home by his wife, Rosemarie, when she returned on Wednesday from a charity show rehearsal, agent Merritt Blake told Reuters.
Blake said Stack had been given a "clean bill of health" in recent weeks, though doctors were aware that he had an artery blockage that had gone untreated during his bout with cancer.
Although ill, Stack had continued to work recently, and his distinct, deep voice will soon be heard as the narrator of the upcoming Broadway revival of "Little Shop of Horrors," which he recorded for the show two or three weeks ago, said Blake, his agent for the past 25 years. Those recordings were the last work Stack did before his death.
Stack's last public appearance was on Saturday, when he stood up to acknowledge applause from a crowd attending a birthday tribute to Hollywood's honorary mayor, Johnny Grant.
But Stack had friends in higher places than that, including former President Ronald Reagan (news) and his wife Nancy, who issued a statement saying they counted Stack and his wife "among our dearest friends in Los Angeles."
In a career spanning seven decades, Stack earned a 1956 Academy Award nomination for his supporting role as the playboy son of an oil tycoon in "Written in the Wind" and won renewed popularity with his comic turn in the 1980 movie satire "Airplane!"
However, Stack is perhaps best remembered for his signature role as Eliot Ness, the famed G-Man who battled Prohibition-era mobsters, in the TV series "The Untouchables," which ran from 1959 to 1963. The role earned him an Emmy in 1960.
He also starred as a crime-fighter in two shorter-lived cop shows -- "Most Wanted" and "Strike Force."
He was better-known to a younger generation of viewers as host of the popular docudrama series "Unsolved Mysteries," which combined interviews with dramatic reenactments to explore baffling crimes and all manner of unexplained phenomena ranging from persistent legends to UFO sightings.
Viewers were urged to call a special hotline with clues, and by the end of the eighth season, the show claimed credit for the capture of 140 fugitives.
The series debuted in the late 1980s and ran for about a decade on NBC before CBS picked up the show for two short runs in 1998 and 1999. Reruns, along with some new episodes and updates, have since run on the Lifetime cable network.
Stack made his big-screen debut in 1939 as the leading man opposite Deanna Durbin (news) in "First Love" and was paired with her again two years later in "Nice Girl?"
Interrupting his acting career to serve as an aerial gunner instructor during World War II, he returned to Hollywood to appear in more than 18 films through the 1950s, starting with "A Date with Judy" opposite Elizabeth Taylor (news) in 1948.
Other notable film credits included "The High and the Mighty" with John Wayne (news), the first commercial 3-D feature "Bwana Devil" and the title role in 1959's "John Paul Jones (news)."