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John Heard, the popular character actor who was perhaps best known as Kevin McAllister’s dad from Home Alone, has died. He was was 72.
Heard was found in his hotel room, where he was recovering after back surgery, Variety confirmed after speaking with the Santa Clara Medical Examiner’s office.
The hotel reportedly alerted police to a medical emergency after the facility’s maid service found an unresponsive Heard in his room, according to "family sources" who spoke to TMZ (which first reported the news). He was pronounced dead at the scene, and the cause of death is still being investigated.
A working actor since the 1970s, Heard became a recognizable face in Hollywood productions throughout the ’80s and ’90s. Even before Home Alone came along in 1990, Heard had put his mark on a diverse lineup of memorable films, including Big, Beaches, C.H.U.D. (a cult horror classic), and Marin Scorsese’s After Hours.
Home Alone’s massive success was a big break for Heard, whose affable, overworked McAllister dad — the perfect comedic counterpoint to McAllister mom, Catherine O’Hara — struck a chord. Heard and O’Hara both went on to reprise their roles in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
Heard’s profile trended upwards after his 1990 Home Alone appearance. He appeared in more than 20 more films over the next 10 years, and turned in a number of notable TV appearances. The most high-profile of those was a recurring role on HBO’s The Sopranos, in which he played a beaten down detective on Tony Soprano’s payroll.
The Sopranos gig earned Heard an Emmy nomination in 1999, in the "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series" category.
He might have been known best as the lovable Home Alone dad, but Heard’s resume points to an actor with range. He was, at alternating times, a hero and a villain; a keeper of wisdom and a stooge. Younger moviegoers might think of him as one of those perennial "that guy" performers, but those who grew up with his work in the ’80s and ’90s knew Heard as a capable, dependable face for any type of role.