The actor will be forever remembered for his works, including his numerous collaborations with Paul Thomas Anderson.
Philip Baker Hall, 90, a prolific actor with a 60-year career and credits in more than 100 films and TV shows, died on June 12.
Hall’s death was announced Monday on Twitter by LA Times sports writer Sam Farmer, who wrote, “My neighbor, friend, and one of the wisest, most talented and kindest people I’ve ever met, Philip Baker Hall, died peacefully last night. He was surrounded by loved ones. The world has an empty space in it.”
My neighbor, friend, and one of the wisest, most talented and kindest people I’ve ever met, Philip Baker Hall, died peacefully last night. He was surrounded by loved ones. The world has an empty space in it. pic.twitter.com/pBCaILjHPT— Sam Farmer (@LATimesfarmer) June 13, 2022
Although Hall’s cause of death wasn’t announced, he suffered from emphysema and has been reliant on an oxygen tank, The Washington Post reported in 2017.
With his classic hangdog expression and distinct world-weary demeanor, Hall was equally skilled at handling drama and comedy. He has appeared in nearly 200 film and television projects, as well as more than 100 roles in the theater throughout his career that spanned six decades. Continuing to work late into his life, even as he required an oxygen tank at times due to his health issues, he had appearances in films including Argo and Bad Words, and as the cranky neighbor Walt Kleezak on the ABC sitcom Modern Family, reported Los Angeles Times.
Hall, who was born in Toledo, Ohio, on September 10, 1931, made his film debut in the 1970 film, Cowards, about Vietnam War draft evasion. His popular films include The Rock, The Insider, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Zodiac, Argo, Air Force One, and Dogville, among others. Hall, whose first TV appearance was on an episode of Good Times, also played a doctor on Curb Your Enthusiasm and a grumpy neighbor on Modern Family. Years later, he was still recognized for his role as library cop Bookman on an episode of Seinfeld (which he reprised in the 1998 series finale). His final TV role was as Zelman Katz on Netflix’s 2020 series Messiah.
He received glowing praise and a Drama Desk award for his one-man role as disgraced former president Richard Nixon in the 1984 play Secret Honor, a role he reprised in Robert Altman’s film of the same name, as per The Wrap. His performance was a revelation to critic Roger Ebert, who wrote, “Nixon is portrayed by Philip Baker Hall, an actor previously unknown to me, with such savage intensity, such passion, such venom, such scandal, that we cannot turn away.”
In another review, Vincent Canby of The New York Times raved with equal admiration, “Mr. Hall’s immense performance, which is as astonishing and risky … as that of the Oscar-winning F. Murray Abraham in ‘Amadeus.’”
Hall—who would go on to work steadily in film and TV for two more decades—seemed bemused by the notion that he was becoming a star of sorts in his late 60s, at a point when some actors begin to contemplate retirement.
“I can honestly say I’m being offered more work than I can handle,” he said. “By the standards of a struggling stage actor, I’ve been doing well.”