Thursday, April 2, 2015

RIP, Robert Z'Dar

On March 30th, cult movie actor Robert Z'Dar passed away.  He was in Pensacola, Florida, where earlier this month he was hospitalized with chest pains, before suffering cardiac arrest Monday night.

He was 64 years old.
Z'Dar was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1950 and he attended college at Arizona State University where he played football while studying acting.  Returning to Chicago he played keyboards and sang in a rock band called Nova Express, their name taken from the William S. Burroughs novel.  After that, he held jobs that ranged from police officer to Chippendale's dancer before finally taking off for Los Angeles to become an actor.

Z'Dar was known for his unique facial size and features, caused by cherubim, and he was able to parlay that into a career playing bad guys and heavies.  He was in B-movies mostly, but his face is not one you forget.  I'm pretty sure the first thing I saw him in was either Tango & Cash (one of the few non-B-movies he was in) or Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time.

The Maniac Cop movies might be what Robert Z'Dar was most known for, but he did gain a lot of fans after two of his movies, Soultaker and Future War, were featured on cult favorite TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000.  In addition to that, in recently years there has been a resurgence of interest in his cult classic action movie Samurai Cop.

Always working, Z'Dar amassed 121 film and television credits during his career (although a couple of those are in "pre-production"), including the upcoming sequel Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance, although I'm not sure if he started work on that or not, I've read conflicting things.

His longtime friend and manager, Jim Decker, had this to say:  "We've been together through thick and thin.  He was the first actor I took on in my career as an agent.  We spent many weekends on the road together and a lot of time enjoying each other's company.  I miss him dearly."

RIP, Z'Dar.

An early role of his was on the hit television show Moonlighting (1985).  He was a security guard.
If I were to recommend a single Z'Dar movie, it would be Maniac Cop (1988).  That movie and it's two sequels were mainstays of video store shelves in the '90s.
In Tango & Cash (1989) his character's name is Face.  True story.
Gathering souls with Joe Estevez in Soultaker (1990).

Killing American Style (1990).  This is the first of four movies Z'Dar would do with Iranian director Amir Shervan, including Samurai Cop, Gypsy (1991), and Young Rebels (1992).
Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991)
Mobsters (1991), in which Z'Dar co-stars with Christian Slater, Patrick Dempsey, and Richard Grieco, proving that the early '90s were a special time.
Samurai Cop (1991): pure cinema gold.
Frogtown II (1992).  I haven't seen this movie.  I just liked his mustache.  It's the sequel to Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988), which starred Roddy Piper in the lead role.  That's another movie I haven't seen, but at least I've heard of it.  Anyway, the character is named Sam Hell, which is cool. 
Future War (1997), "the movie that delivers more HUH?s per second."

Robert Z'Dar - 1950-2015

No comments:

Post a Comment