R.I.P. Dean Stockwell, star of 'Quantum Leap' who began his career as a child star

He appeared in everything from Wagon Train and The Twilight Zone to David Lynch’s Dune.

The Everett Collection

Though he'll always be remembered as Admiral Al Calavicci in the Scott Bakula sci-fi series Quantum Leap, Dean Stockwell accrued hundreds of credits in eight different decades from the 1940s to the 2010s.

His career had quite the arc, from cute child star to James Dean–esque TV guest star to hippie to charismatic character actor.

The New York Times said it best in 1988, after creepy appearances in David Lynch films Blue Velvet and Dune as well as memorable parts in Married to the Mob and Tucker: The Man and His Dream, "The cherub seen scampering with toe-tapping Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh had turned into a dark, intense, charismatic leading man."

Born to actor parents in Los Angeles in 1936, Robert Dean Stockwell and his brother, Guy, were introduced to show business at a young age. When Guy was ten and Dean just seven, they appeared on Broadway in the pirate comedy The Innocent Voyage.

Two years later Dean made his film debut as Paulie in the Greer Garson-Gregory Peck drama The Valley of Decision. Then came Anchors Aweigh, The Boy with Green Hair, The Secret Garden and many others.

Stockwell returned to Broadway in 1957 for Compulsion, adapted from the novel (which was inspired by a real trial) about two wealthy college students who believe they can get away with murder. He then starred with Bradford Dillman and Orson Welles in the 1959 film version.

Stockwell's memorable TV gigs include four appearances in Wagon Train, the classic Twilight Zone episode "A Quality of Mercy," a six-episode storyline in Dr. Kildare as Dr. Rudy Devereux and the Bonanza episode "The Medal."

In 1968, Stockwell starred with Susan Strasburg, Jack Nicholson and Bruce Dern in the San Francisco hippie movie Psych-Out.

During a career slowdown in the Seventies, Stockwell earned his real estate license but also appeared in Mannix, Mission: Impossible, Night Gallery, Columbo, and Cannon.

Stockwell's career rebounded after appearing with his friend Harry Dean Stanton in the 1984 film Paris, Texas. From there, he won a string of big-screen supporting roles in Dune, To Live and Die in L.A., Blue Velvet, Beverly Hills Cop II and more.

Stockwell won his most famous role four decades into his career when he became Admiral Al Calavicci in Quantum Leap in 1989. The charismatic, cigar-smoking Al guides Dr. Sam Becket (Scott Bakula) as he travels through time, helping people along the way.

Stockwell had a recurring role in the 2006 reboot of Battlestar Galactica before retiring from acting in 2015. He passed away this week at the age of 85.

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102 Comments

FloridaTopCat 12 months ago
In the 2022 Quantum Leap reboot, Al Calavicci's Daughter (Beth, played by Susan Diol) & Granddaughter (Janis, played by Georgina Reilly) appear in over half the first season episodes.
SueClark 29 months ago
I remember Dean Stockwell from an episode of "Bonanza". He played a Medal of Honor winner as a Civil War soldier who was down on his luck. Ben Cartwright helped him find his way back to sobriety. Then he falls in love with a woman from Georgia whose family house was destroyed in the Civil War.
mymopar70 30 months ago
DEAN STOCKWELL: a very good/ solid actor. In order for this guy's career to span from childhood to senior citizen, he HAD to be good.

I first took notice of Stockwell's acting years ago after watching him play a closeted gay killer in COMPULSION. An excellent retelling of Chicago's Leopold/ Loeb murder case. This film also featured the HIGHLY UNDERRATED MARTIN MILNER - a MeTv alum.

I also enjoyed Stockwell's performance as the sinister lawyer in TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. An excellent WILLIAM FRIEDKIN film.
Greg 30 months ago
Great underrated actor RIP Dean
WhiteRook 30 months ago
The TWZ episode "The Quality of Mercy" written by Rod Serling a veteran combat paratrooper in the Pacific during WW2. His narration and dialogue between Stockwell and actor Albert Salmi is truly timeless. Also Stockwell as Al on "Quantum Leap" and his handy Ziggy com is also timeless.
Jack 30 months ago
GOD Rest the Soul of Dean Stockwell ... Amen - Alleluia!
deby 30 months ago
So well admired and truly great talent we are loosing so many at one time very sad indeed
30 months ago
I liked him in The Boy With Green Hair and The Secret Garden. I also remember him on numerous tv shows. Rest In Peace Gene
SheriHeffner 30 months ago
Dean, sorry for the misspelling
Nala92129 SheriHeffner 30 months ago
I loathe "autocorrect!"
gmail Nala92129 30 months ago
Sorry METV had the comment mixed with another person, didn't realize until I searched through. pleased. Thank you. Sorry for the confusion on my end.
L 30 months ago
Dean was one of those rare actors who has been in "the business" for most of his life.

The Secret Garden, The Boy with Green Hair to name but two as a child actor. And I'm sure my mother watched those on the big screen when they came out.
Dramachick00 30 months ago
I heard he no longer remembered due to the strokes his life as an actor. How sad the world seems knowing this great man of whom could play any part remembered nothing. I will miss him even more now. Watching old clips will be bittersweet. Rest In Peace Dean. Prayers to his family. We were so grateful for the time we had him. To me you are not gone just trading Sam for the opportunity to leap. Somewhere I have a feeling we will see you again. If not today maybe yesterday.
TheDavBow3 30 months ago
I used to love watching Quantum Leap. I really like those nostalgic, time machine, back in time kinda shows. Recently in the last 5 years or so, I enjoyed watching Timeless and Time After Time. Of course, they were canceled. Rest In Peace, Al. You were a great actor.
gmail 30 months ago
Sitting here watching M*A*S*H finale, first time to see it in its entirety. I have to admit, a time or two, a tear cropped up. So many of the actors have passed on, maybe a moment of thinking just how much we have enjoyed all of them over these years.
Thanks to those here and those who have moved on.
Thanks
M*A*S*H
UTZAAKE 30 months ago
Dean Stockwell as Tony "The Tiger" Russo in Married to the Mob was so memorable. Priceless was his facial expression when he was thoroughly annoyed and the line he spoke to Alec Baldwin before shooting his character dead - "You disappointed the $#!+ out of me."
MarkRyan 30 months ago
No mention of him winning the Academy Award for his powerful performance in Eugene O'Neill's "Long Days Journey Into NIght" in 1962.

Pacificsun MarkRyan 30 months ago
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_awards_and_nominations_received_by_Dean_Stockwell

??
cperrynaples Pacificsun 30 months ago
Yes, he wasn't even nominated for the Oscar that year, but he was honored at the Cannes Film Festival! His only nomination came 27 years later with Married To The Mob!
djw1120 30 months ago
Let's not forget that he also appeared as the Secretary of The Navy in "JAG" for a few seasons.
And in one episode he was put on trial for "war crimes" at The Hague.
"Harm" and "Mac" defended him, but he was found guilty anyway.
Fortunately, the sentence was $20,000,000 as reparations (after which he said that the US would have paid that anyway - shared some wine with the prosecuter (after speaking to him in French)).
Pacificsun djw1120 30 months ago
That was a great role for him!
logicgrrl 30 months ago
My mom was a fan of his from The Boy with Green Hair and I was a fan from Quantum Leap. It's not many actors who's fans span generations.

RIP Dean Stockwell
Pacificsun logicgrrl 30 months ago
There are a few ...
MarkSpeck 30 months ago
With regards to the movie version of Compulsion, Stockwell had a grudge against Bradford Dillman for a long time. His co-star in the Broadway version was a good friend of his, Roddy McDowall, and Stockwell was upset that 20th Century-Fox decided to go with Dillman for the role instead of McDowall.
cperrynaples MarkSpeck 30 months ago
This might have been a gay thing! Compulsion had a homosexual subtext and McDowall's lifestyle was well known in Hollywood! Stockwell fought anti-Semitism with roles in Gentlemen's Agreement and The Boy With Green Hair!
Nala92129 MarkSpeck 30 months ago
Both were good actors. Dillman had the charming sociopath down!
MarkSpeck Nala92129 30 months ago
He certainly did! That pretty much became a trademark for him on various '60's and '70's TV shows.
PatMarotta 30 months ago
Wasn't that a smart phone he carried around in Quantum Leap.
cperrynaples PatMarotta 30 months ago
No, it was a calculator that the producers pretended was a mini-computer! However, the cigars were real!
Pacificsun PatMarotta 30 months ago
Absolutely!! Good catch.
Donald J. Bellesario was such a great producer. He just understood a Viewer's appetite for entertainment!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_P._Bellisario
Pacificsun cperrynaples 30 months ago
The Illusion, the Illusion Cperrynaples!!

Just like the iPad in ST:TOS was a framed Etch-a-Sketch.
gmail 30 months ago
METV time to pull Kolchak, even though I like the show, time to replace with Quantum Leap, we can use the change.
cperrynaples gmail 30 months ago
Right now, Comet has QL, and is even during marathons in tribute!
gmail cperrynaples 30 months ago
Appreciate your comment, really like to see a change up in that time slot. Just tired of the same thing.
djw1120 cperrynaples 30 months ago
I never heard of "Comet" and I am on the East Coast (in New York).
Where is it?
cperrynaples djw1120 30 months ago
It's a diginet like MeTV and is also on some live streamers like Sling!
LoveMETV22 djw1120 30 months ago
It's an Over the Air station, but you can watch their scheduled shows live on line at Comet TV.

The List of Comet TV Affiliates:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Comet_affiliates
gmail djw1120 30 months ago
I myself just found it on "over the air antenna " if that helps
Pacificsun gmail 30 months ago
That's pretty good idea, but why not make them buddy shows (appealing to the same audience).
One problem though that Moody pointed out. Commet TV has the rights to QL for now, and made it a 3 hour block nightly.
JamesCavender 30 months ago
WOW that is strange. I just saw Dean in a Mannix episode last night and stayed for the ending credits as I had forgot his name, then I see this post today. Loved him in Quantum Leap. Very good actor. Blessings to family.
cperrynaples JamesCavender 30 months ago
Saw it and it's not a good performance! If you want to see Stockwell in something freaky, check out Werewolf Of Washington! The perfect movie for Svengoolie!
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