Entertainment & Arts

Dick Miller, Gremlins and Terminator actor, dies aged 90

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Richard "Dick" Miller celebrated his 90th birthday last December

Dick Miller, the veteran character actor best known for his role as Murray Futterman in the 1984 film Gremlins, has died at the age of 90.

Miller made hundreds of screen appearances during a career that spanned six decades.

His first role was in Roger Corman's 1955 western Apache Woman.

The US actor went on to appear in films like The Terminator, Piranha and the original 1960 version of The Little Shop of Horrors.

Barbara Steele, Dick Miller and Bruce Gordon in Piranha Image copyright Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives
Image caption Dick Miller (centre) with Barbara Steele and Bruce Gordon (right) in a scene from Piranha

Miller was born in The Bronx on 25 December 1928. He served in the US Navy before attending the City College of New York and Columbia University.

An aspiring writer turned actor, he collaborated with director and producer Corman on more than 20 films.

Though he was usually a supporting actor, he had a rare starring role as the artist and murderer Walter Paisley in Corman's 1959 horror, A Bucket of Blood.

Dick Miller toasting a robot in Hollywood Boulevard Image copyright Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives
Image caption Miller played characters called Walter Paisley in six films, including Hollywood Boulevard in 1976

The Walter Paisley name would follow Miller throughout his career.

In 1976, Gremlins director Joe Dante made his directorial debut with Hollywood Boulevard.

Dante decided to name Miller's character Walter Paisley as a nod to Corman, the film's producer.

Dick Miller with Jackie Joseph in 2005 Image copyright Getty Images/Paul Archuleta
Image caption Miller worked with many Hollywood stars, including actress Jackie Joseph

Miller became a regular in Dante's films, playing characters named Walter Paisley in almost all the films they made together. They include 1981 werewolf horror The Howling.

Dante broke with the tradition in 1984, giving Miller one of his most memorable roles - the drunk Murray Futterman - in horror comedy Gremlins.

Futterman was a World War II veteran who is paranoid about anything made abroad.

Although the character appeared to be killed when gremlins drove a snow plough through his house, Miller returned to the role for 1990 sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch.

Dante paid tribute to Miller in a series of tweets on Thursday, describing him as "one of my best friends and most treasured collaborators."

Though Miller never became a major Hollywood star, he was highly respected within the film industry.

Many actors and directors that worked with him have paid tribute on social media, including Gremlins star Zach Galligan and horror director John Carpenter.

The list of directors Miller would eventually work with included James Cameron, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.

He appeared in Cameron's The Terminator in 1984, playing a gun shop owner who shows Arnold Schwarzenegger's cyborg his range of weapons.

As well as having more than 175 films to his name, Miller made more than 2,000 television appearances. He notably played the role of Lou Mackie in 1980s TV series Fame.

A documentary of his life, called That Guy Dick Miller, was made in 2014, in which he received praise from such co-stars as Gremlins' Corey Feldman.

Miller's final film role was in horror film Hanukkah, which has yet to be released. In it, he once again plays a character named Walter Paisley.

Miller died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday, with his wife Lainie, daughter Barbara and granddaughter Autumn by his side.

In a statement Miller's family said: "His sense of humour and the unique way he looked at the world won him many lifelong friends and worldwide fans."

Presentational line break

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

Related Topics

More on this story