Michael Parks

Michael Parks (born Harry Samuel Parks; April 24, 1940 – May 9, 2017) was an American singer and actor.[2] He appeared in many films and made frequent television appearances, notably starring in the 1969-70 series Then Came Bronson, but was probably best known for his work in his later years with filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Smith.

Michael Parks
Parks in Then Came Bronson (1969)
Harry Samuel Parks

(1940-04-24)April 24, 1940
DiedMay 9, 2017(2017-05-09) (aged 77)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActor, singer
Years active1960–2017
  • Louise Johnson
  • Joanne E. "Jan" Moriarty
    (m. 1964; died 1964)
  • Frances Alston Walker[1]
  • Oriana Parks
    (m. 1997; his death 2017)
Children2, including James Parks

As of 2018-2019, Kevin Smith was producing a documentary on Michael's life titled Long Lonesome Highway, The Story of Michael Parks. It stars James Parks, Kurt Russell, Haley Joel Osment, Robert Rodriguez, Leonard Maltin, Mickey Rourke, Justin Long, Wyatt Russell, Mark Frost, and more.[3][4]

Personal life

Parks was born in Corona, California.[5][6]

He drifted from job to job during his teenage years, including picking fruit, digging ditches, driving trucks, and fighting forest fires.[5]

His first marriage at age 16 to Louise Johnson produced a daughter.[7] His second marriage in 1964 to actress Jan Moriarty lasted only a few months, ending with her apparent suicide from an overdose. His third marriage produced a son, James. After living in New Orleans in the 1980s and ending his fourth marriage in 1991, he moved back to California. In 1997 he married Oriana. The union lasted until his death.[7]


In 1961, Parks portrayed the nephew of the character George MacMichael on the ABC sitcom The Real McCoys. He appeared with Bette Davis as Cal Leonard in the 1963 Perry Mason episode "The Case of Constant Doyle", and gained recognition in the role of Adam in John Huston's The Bible: In the Beginning... (1966).

Parks was the star of the series Then Came Bronson from 1969 to 1970. He sang “Wayfarin’ Stranger“, a duet with pilot episode co-star Bonnie Bedelia, and later the theme song for the show, "Long Lonesome Highway", which became a #20 Billboard Hot 100 and #41 Hot Country Songs hit.[8] Albums he recorded under MGM Records (the label of the studio which produced the series) include Closing The Gap (1969), Long Lonesome Highway (1970), and Blue. He had various records of songs included on these albums.

After disputes with the producers of Bronson, Parks said he was informally blacklisted in Hollywood.[9] Parks admitted he could be "difficult on the set" and also said he objected to producers wanting to make the series more violent. After the cancellation of Bronson Parks didn't work in a major Hollywood production for several years but had regular small roles in independent or Canadian features throughout the 1970s.

He played in twelve episodes of ABC's The Colbys, a spin-off from Dynasty, first as Hoyt Parker, and then Phillip Colby during the second season (1986–1987). He appeared as Irish mob boss Tommy O'Shea in Death Wish V: The Face of Death (1994), French-Canadian drug runner Jean Renault in the ABC television series Twin Peaks, Dr. Banyard in Deceiver (1997), Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in From Dusk till Dawn (1996), and Ambrose Bierce in From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter (2000).

Parks played two roles in the Kill Bill film series, reprising the role of Earl McGraw in the first film (2003) and playing pimp Esteban Vihaio in the second film (2004). He reprised the role of Earl McGraw in both segments of the film Grindhouse (2007). His son, James Parks, played the son of Earl McGraw in Kill Bill, From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money, Death Proof and Planet Terror. Parks played a villain in Kevin Smith's horror films Red State (2011) and Tusk (2014).

Smith later announced on his podcast that Parks had recorded an album during Red State's production, after Smith and producer Jon Gordon noticed his singing talent during filming. The album, titled The Red State Sessions, was released on August 15, 2011 as a download from the film's website.

Death and reaction

Parks died on May 9, 2017, in his Los Angeles home at the age of 77.[10] He requested a full body burial at sea which his wife attended alone. The public memorial service was held at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.

Upon hearing the news, director Kevin Smith posted on his Instagram account "Michael was, and will likely forever remain, the best actor I've ever known. I wrote both Red State and Tusk for Parks, I loved his acting so much." He also included, "He was, hands-down, the most incredible thespian I ever had the pleasure to watch perform. And Parks brought out the absolute best in me every time he got near my set."[11][12] In a Twitter post, director Robert Rodriguez referred to Michael Parks as "a true legend".[13]


Kevin Smith is producing a documentary on the life and times of Michael Parks, directed by Michael's former assistant, Josh Roush.[14] Long Lonesome Highway covers his beginnings as an itinerant farmer where he hopped boxcars at age 12, through being blacklisted in Hollywood, to his career resurgence at the hands of filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino.[15]



Year Title Role Notes
1965 Wild Seed Fargo
Bus Riley's Back in Town Bus Riley
1966 The Bible: In the Beginning... Adam
The Idol Marco
1967 The Happening Sureshot
Stranger on the Run Vincent McKay
1973 Between Friends Tony
1976 The Last Hard Men Noel Nye
The Savage Bees Dr. Jeff DuRand
1977 Murder at the World Series Larry Marshall
Escape from Bogen County Jack Kern
Sidewinder 1 J.W. Wyatt
The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover Robert F. Kennedy
1978 Love and the Midnight Auto Supply Duke
Rainbow Roger Edens
1979 The Evictors Ben Watkins
Breakthrough Sgt. Anderson
North Sea Hijack Harold Shulman
1981 Hard Country Royce
1982 Savannah Smiles Lt. Savage
1986 The Return of Josey Wales Josey Wales Also director
1988 Arizona Heat Larry Kapinski
Nightmare Beach Doc Willet
1989 Caged Fury Mr. Collins Also associate producer
Prime Suspect Bill Nevins
1991 The Hitman Det. Ronny "Del" Delany
1992 Storyville Det. Michael Trevllian
Over the Line Pearlmutter
1994 Death Wish V: The Face of Death Tommy O'Shea
Stranger by Night Detective Larson Direct-to-video
1995 Sorceress Stan Direct-to-video
1996 From Dusk till Dawn Earl McGraw
1997 Niagara, Niagara Walter
Deceiver Dr. Banyard
Julian Po Vern
1998 Wicked Det. Boland
1999 From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter Ambrose Bierce Direct-to-video
2000 Bullfighter Cordobes
2001 Big Bad Love Mr. Aaron
2002 13 Moons Bartender
2003 Kill Bill: Volume 1 Earl McGraw
The Librarians William Clark
2004 Kill Bill: Volume 2 Esteban Vihaio
2005 Miracle at Sage Creek Justice Stanley
2006 The Listening James Wagley
2007 Grindhouse Earl McGraw Segments: Planet Terror / Death Proof
El Muerto Sheriff Stone
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Henry Craig
2008 Noble Things Pete Collins
Maidenhead Dad
Three Priests Jacob
2010 Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball Fritz Tremor Direct-to-DVD
Street Poet Benny
2011 Red State Pastor Abin Cooper
2012 Argo Jack Kirby
Django Unchained LeQuint Dickey Mining Co. Employee
2013 We Are What We Are Doc Barrow
2014 Tusk Howard Howe
2016 Blood Father Preacher
Greater Leo
2017 The Queen of Hollywood Blvd Chet Fuller Posthumous release
TBA The Gnashing Harrison Post-production
Posthumous release
TBA The Summoning Newberry Post-production
Posthumous release
Final film role


Year Title Role Notes
1960 Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater Juanito Episode: "Ransom"
1961 Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater The Younger Prisoner Episode: "The Scar"
The Law and Mr. Jones Mike Enslow Episode: "One by One"
The Asphalt Jungle Ty Episode: "The Sniper"
Straightaway Episode: "Pledge a Nightmare"
The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor Johnny Blaine, Eddy Washburn, and Jimmy Episodes: "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt", "Personal Enemy", "The Frightened Ones"
1962 Gunsmoke Park Episode: "The Boys"
Target: The Corruptors! Rocky Kustak Episode: "Nobody Gets Hurt"
Stoney Burke Tack Reynolds Episode: "The Mob Riders"
The Real McCoys Tom Episode: "George's Nephew"
Bus Stop Episode: "The Opposite Virtues"
Sam Benedict Larry Wilcox Episode: "Too Many Strangers"
The Gallant Men Billy Ray Medford Episode: "A Place to Die"
1963 Alfred Hitchcock Hour Skip Baxter Episode: "The Cadaver"
1963 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Dr. Daniel Dana Episode: "Diagnosis: Danger"
The Greatest Show on Earth Cristos Episode: "The Hanging Man"
Perry Mason Cal Leonard Episode: "The Case of Constant Doyle"
Arrest and Trial Gregory Wade Episode: "We May Be Better Strangers"
77 Sunset Strip Eddie Marco Episode: "Crash Out!"
1963–1964 Channing Dante Donati 2 episodes
Wagon Train Hamish Browne and Michael Malone Episodes: "The Heather and Hamish Story", "The Michael Malone Story"
1964 Route 66 Tank Episode: "Cries of Persons Close to One"
1965 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Lieutenant Colonel Burt Engle Episode: "A Time for Killing"
1969–1970 Then Came Bronson Jim Bronson Lead role, 26 episodes
1973 Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law Ollie Gregson Episode: "Sometimes Tough Is Good"
Medical Center Dr. Chris Wells Episode: "Fatal Memory"
1974 Ironside Professor Riley MacDane Episode: "A Death in Academe"
1976 Ellery Queen Terry Purvis Episode: "The Adventure of the Wary Witness"
1986, 1988 The Equalizer Logan / Jonathan Grey 2 episodes
1987 The Colbys Phillip Colby 12 episodes
1989 Murder, She Wrote Ben Aaron Episode: "Prediction: Murder"
War of the Worlds Cash McCullough Episode: "My Soul to Keep"
Billy the Kid Rynerson Television film
1990 The China Lake Murders Officer Donnelly Television film
1990–1991 Twin Peaks Jean Renault 5 episodes
1991 Shades of L.A. Rev. James Scarborough 2 episodes
1993 SeaQuest 2032 George Le Chein Episode: "To Be or Not To Be"
1996 Hart to Hart Evan Powell Episode: "Secrets of the Hart"
1996, 1999 Walker, Texas Ranger Major Caleb Hooks 2 episodes


  • 1969 – Closing The Gap (MGM)
  • 1970 – Long Lonesome Highway (MGM)
  • 1970 – Blue (MGM)
  • 1970 – Lost & Found (Verve)
  • 1971 – Best Of Michael Parks (MGM)
  • 1981 – You Don't Know Me (First American)
  • 1998 – Coolin' Soup (Listen)
  • 2011 – The Red State Sessions (SModcast)
  • Singles include Long Lonesome Highway/Mountain High (MGM K 14104); Big "T" Water/Won't You Ride In My Little Red Wagon (MGM K 14363); Tie Me To Your Apron Strings Again (MGM K 14092); Sally/Spend A Little, Save A Little, Give A Little Away (MGM K 14154) (all from 1970).


  1. "Obituaries for 8/17". The Daily Sentinel. August 17, 2005. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  2. "Michael Parks". The New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  3. "Long Lonesome Highway". ParksDoc.com. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
  4. Long Lonesome Highway: The Story of Michael Parks, Kevin Smith, Haley Joel Osment, Wyatt Russell, 2019, retrieved August 16, 2018CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. Evans, Greg (May 10, 2017). "Michael Parks Dies: 'Then Came Bronson', 'Kill Bill' Actor Was 77". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 10, 2019 via deadline.com.
  6. "Harry Samuel Parks". California Birth Index. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  7. "Michael Parks, 'Kill Bill' and 'Twin Peaks' Actor, Dies at 77". NBC News. Associated Press. May 10, 2017. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  8. Whitburn, Joel (August 2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 315. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
  9. Liam Brennan The Blacklisting of Michael Parks: How a Hollywood Star Was Quietly Shunned, The-Artifice.com, Sep 12, 2013; accessed Sep 06, 2019
  10. "Michael Parks dies, aged 77". denofgeek.com. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  11. "Michael Parks, 'Twin Peaks' Actor and Tarantino Favorite, Dead at 77". Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  12. Kelley, Seth (May 10, 2017). "Michael Parks, Character Actor in 'Kill Bill' and 'Tusk,' Dies at 77". Variety. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  13. "RIP Michael Parks: Hollywood's most underrated actor?". bbc.com. May 10, 2017. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  14. "Michael Parks and I". Film Threat. May 11, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  15. "Josh Roush [Interview]". TRAINWRECK'D SOCIETY. November 5, 2018. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
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