R.I.P. Jan-Michael Vincent of Airwolf and The Banana Splits Adventure Hour

The former teen idol of 'Danger Island' was 73 years old.

Images: The Everett Collection / Warner Bros.

The Eighties were known for their action heroes. Arnold, Bruce and Stallone flexed their muscles on the big screen. Television had no shortage of studs, either, what with Michael Knight, B.A. Baracus and Sonny Crockett battling the bad guys every week. Airwolf certainly belonged in that mix.

Jan-Michael Vincent starred as ace pilot String Hawke, who flies the futuristic stealth helicopter known as Airwolf. The hit 1984–87 series was a highlight in that "guys and their awesome vehicles" genre that became so popular in the Reagan Era, action spectaculars like Blue Thunder, Top Gun, Knight RiderStreet Hawk, Riptide, etc.

With his blonde hair, tanned skin and rugged good looks, Jan-Michael Vincent became the poster boy of this sort of entertainment. He was certainly no stranger to playing a handsome, beachy type.

Back in 1969, the actor, then simply billed as Michael Vincent, landed his first regular role as "Link" on Danger Island, a live-action serial from Hanna-Barbera that aired as a segment of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. The tropical adventure is perhaps best remembered for its gibberish-spewing wild-man Chongo. "Uh oh, Chongo!" became the catchphrase of the short films, which were directed by Richard Donner (Superman, The Goonies). But Vincent certainly stuck in the memory, too, considering he spent most of the series shirtless. The young actor quickly became a regular in teen magazines.

Throughout the 1970s, Vincent continued to appear on television in guest roles, popping up on everything from Gunsmoke to Marcus Welby, M.D.

Airwolf transformed him into an action star, as he continually appeared in low-budget shoot-'em'-up movies like Deathstone and Alienator in subsequent years.

Vincent passed away on February 10 from cardiac arrest, according to The Hollywood Reporter, though news of his death did not break until a month later. He was 73 years old.

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djw1120 54 months ago
Actually, his name was String-Fellow Hawke and his brother's name (who was MIA in Vietnam - and "String" wore his name on an MIA bracelet on his right wrist) was "Saint-John Hawke" (it was pronounced "Sin-Jin).
JERRY6 djw1120 41 months ago
thought the brother was sinjin hawke
csaaphill 63 months ago
Yeah watched Airwolf back then will miss him.

Joe 63 months ago
Wow guys, you didn't mention his best role in the Charles Bronson movie The Mechanic??
csaaphill Joe 63 months ago
yeah great movie and love the ending when Bronson screws him over
dmarkwind Joe 59 months ago
The Mechanic was the first thing I ever saw him in (though I probably saw his segments on the Bannanna Splits but don't remember them). The other early performance I remember him from was as "Nanu" in the Disney movie, The World's Greatest Athlete. Not a great movie, but I was about 11 and recall seeing it multiple times in the theater.
MrsP58 63 months ago
I'm a little surprised you didn't even mention two of his best early roles, 1970 & 1972 made-for-TV movies The Tribe and Sandcastles.

So we've lost Jan Michael Vincent and Luke Perry. Who is doomed to be number three?
Joe MrsP58 63 months ago
Thanks. The movie Tribes is why I enlisted into the Marine Corps
Barry22 MrsP58 63 months ago
Tribes was really good.
#3?!?! More like who will be #7
METV has done obits on the following performers: {May they all R.I.P.}
1. Peter Tork
2. Morgan Woodward
3. Mitzi Hoag {Both of them character actors.}
4. Luke Perry
5. Katherine Helmond
6. JMV.
Well Stephanie #7 is Jed Allan [that is the correct spelling]. To you, he was Ian's father on 90210, but to me he will always be CC Capwell from Santa Barbara, my all-time favorite soap opera! Fun Fact: His daughter Kelly was played by Robin Wright from House of Cards!
eddiec 63 months ago
BrittReid 63 months ago
R.I.P. JMV. You were great in Tribes and The Mechanic.
cperrynaples 63 months ago
Vincent was really a shell of himself when he died, even on Nash Bridges he looked bad! He showed off his penis in Buster & Billie, and yes I saw it! RIP Hawke!
lnieting cperrynaples 63 months ago
What was up with his health? Drinking/drugging? Depression? Just curious.
Joe lnieting 63 months ago
I understand after his accident he became severely depressed and hooked on pain pills and cocaine
suzannahnoelle lnieting 63 months ago
He did use cocaine, but he said it was the alcohol that became his major problem.
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