Actor Seymour Cassel has passed away. He was 84-years old. Cassel died Sunday, April 7th in Los Angeles of complications from Alzheimer's disease, according to his son, Matt.
The actor was best-known for appearing in several John Cassavetes projects over the years and worked with Wes Anderson on Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Cassel was also known for being a versatile talent that made him an admired character actor in the entertainment industry.
Seymour Cassel got his start in acting after studying with Stella Adler at Carnegie Hall. It was there he saw an ad for "Free Scholarships - John Cassavetes Workshop, Variety Arts Building," which changed his life forever. He went and met up with Cassavetes, spoke to him for an hour, and then went to the set to watch the iconic director work and ended up with a job as a cameraman. Eventually, Cassavetes asked him to step in front of the camera. The actor would often pull double duty, working on the set and as an actor. He called Cassavetes the best friend he ever had.
In 1961, Seymour Cassel moved to California and started acting on TV shows. He can be spotted on shows such as Batman, Combat!, My Three Sons, The F.B.I., and later in the Starz' hit drama Magic City. He usually played beatniks, hippies, and oddballs when appearing on these shows.
Over the years, he starred in more than 200 projects, including Minnie and Moskowitz, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Opening Night, and Love Streams with John Cassavetes. He went on to star in Coogan's Bluff, Honeymoon in Vegas, Dick Tracy, In the Soup, Tin Men, and quite a lot more.
Seymour Cassel was born January 22nd, 1935, in Detroit, Michigan, but later moved to New York, where he lived above a nightclub with his mother and stepfather. His mother was a stripper and dancer on the Minsky's burlesque circuit, and when Cassel was around 3-years old, he would have a part before the shows began. He later moved back to Detroit with his grandmother and then joined the Navy. It was after his stint in the military that he decided to pursue acting. Throughout his career, Cassel always stood up for independent filmmaking. He had this to say about it in 1997.
"With independent film, simply because they don't have the money to make a big budget film, they're forced to make a story that's important to them, that they would like to see on film, a personal story that people can relate to, about people, where you can see the love of the characters. That's true of the best films I've done, certainly Cassavetes' films."
In the early 1980s, Seymour Cassel's son Matt was friends with Saul Hudson, better known as Slash from Guns N' Roses. The guitar player says Cassel was the one that gave him the name Slash because he was always in a hurry, "always scheming, always hustling." Cassel left a big mark on Hollywood throughout his many different roles over the years and made a career out of believing in the characters he was playing. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to announce Seymour Cassel's death. Rest In Peace, Seymour Cassel.