Michael Leonard Ontkean (born 24 January 1946) is a retired Canadian actor. Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Ontkean relocated to the United States to attend the University of New Hampshire on a hockey scholarship before pursuing a career in acting in the early 1970s.
Michael Leonard Ontkean
24 January 1946
|Alma mater||University of New Hampshire|
Frances E. Knight
(m. 1971; div. 1980)
(m. 1987; div. 2019)
He initially came to prominence portraying Officer Willie Gillis on the crime drama series The Rookies from 1972 to 1974, followed by lead roles in the hockey sports comedy film Slap Shot (1977) and the romantic comedy Willie & Phil (1980). In 1982, he had a starring role opposite Harry Hamlin and Kate Jackson in the drama Making Love, in which he portrayed a married man who comes to terms with his homosexuality. Ontkean continued to appear in films, such as Clara's Heart (1988) and Postcards from the Edge (1990) before being cast as Sheriff Harry S. Truman on David Lynch's Twin Peaks (1990–1991), the role for which he is probably best known.
Early life edit
Ontkean was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, the son of Muriel (née Cooper), an actress, and Leonard Ontkean, a boxer and actor. He was a child actor in Vancouver, appearing on the Canadian television series Hudson's Bay (1959). His family later relocated to Toronto, where he attended St. Michael's Choir School and Holy Rosary Catholic School before attending St. Michael's College School. He grew up playing hockey and he earned a hockey scholarship to the University of New Hampshire, a Division I program playing in the ECAC. In his three years on the varsity program, Ontkean scored 63 goals and 111 points in 85 games played. He led the team in goal scoring his junior year with 30 goals, and was second behind fellow Canadian Louis Frigon his senior year.
Ontkean began in Hollywood by guest starring in The Partridge Family in 1971, and he was a television guest player on such shows as Ironside and Longstreet, but his break was in the ABC series The Rookies (1972–1976), in which he played Officer Willie Gillis for the first two seasons. He was replaced by actor, Bruce Fairbairn in The Rookies. Ontkean's hockey skill played a large role in his landing the role of Ned Braden in Slap Shot (1977), as he performed all of his on-ice shots himself. In 1979, he appeared in the first episode of Tales of the Unexpected.
Other early movie roles included Necromancy (1972) with Orson Welles; Voices (1979) with Amy Irving; Willie & Phil (1980) with Margot Kidder; The Blood of Others (1984); Kids Don't Tell (1985) with JoBeth Williams; The Right of the People (1986); The Allnighter and Maid to Order (both 1987) (the latter with Ally Sheedy); Clara's Heart (1988) with Whoopi Goldberg, and Bye Bye Blues (1989).
Making Love edit
Making Love (1982) is about a married man who discovers his homosexuality. Ontkean was not the director's first choice for the film: Arthur Hiller had previously approached Tom Berenger, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, William Hurt and Peter Strauss to play the lead, before finally approaching Ontkean. According to Hiller, the reaction of most actors was to tell him not to even consider them for the role. The film reunited Ontkean with Kate Jackson; the two had previously co-starred together in The Rookies. Many years later, Ontkean tried to prevent clips from the film from being included in The Celluloid Closet, a 1995 documentary about LGBT characters in film, but he was unsuccessful.
Twin Peaks edit
Ontkean appeared as Sheriff Harry S. Truman in David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks (1990–1991). He filmed scenes for Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me but, like many others from the original TV series, his scenes were deleted from the final film.
After Twin Peaks edit
Ontkean subsequently appeared in many film and television productions including In Defense of a Married Man (1990); In a Child's Name (1991) with Valerie Bertinelli; Legacy of Lies (1992); Rapture and Vendetta II: The New Mafia (both 1993); Swann: A Mystery and The Stepford Husbands (both 1996); Summer of the Monkeys and A Chance of Snow (both 1998; the latter again with JoBeth Williams); Bear with Me (2000), and Mrs. Ashboro's Cat (2003).
The Descendants and retirement edit
Ontkean was approached to reprise his role as Sheriff Truman for the 2017 revival of Twin Peaks. At first, Ontkean was reportedly excited about returning to the role, and enlisted Twin Peaks authority Brad Dukes to help him find the jacket which his character once wore on the show. Dukes located a suitable replica, bought it and sent it to Ontkean. However, in 2015, Ontkean dropped out of the Twin Peaks revival, for reasons which were never made public. Dukes recalled: "We last spoke in August and he informed me he wasn't going to Washington after all. I told him I was heartbroken to hear that. Aside from being heartbroken, I am puzzled. Twin Peaks is not Twin Peaks without Michael Ontkean as Sheriff Harry S. Truman."
Personal life edit
Michael was married to Jamie Smith-Jackson, an actress and design director and owner of Jamie Jackson Design. The couple later divorced; they have two daughters, Jenna Millman and Sadie Sapphire Ontkean.
|1971||The Peace Killers||Jeff|
|1972||Pickup on 101||Chuck|
|1972||Hot Summer Week||Will|
|1977||Slap Shot||Ned Braden|
|1980||Willie & Phil||Willie Kaufman|
|1984||The Blood of Others||Jean|
|1984||Just the Way You Are||Peter Nichols|
|1987||Maid to Order||Nick McGuire|
|1987||Street Justice||Curt Flynn|
|1988||Clara's Heart||Bill Hart|
|1989||Bye Bye Blues||Teddy Harper|
|1989||Cold Front||Derek McKenzie|
|1990||Postcards from the Edge||Robert Munch|
|1992||Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me||Sheriff Harry S. Truman||Scenes deleted. Later featured in Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces.|
|1998||Summer of the Monkeys||John Lee|
|1998||Nico the Unicorn||Tom Gentry|
|1999||Just a Little Harmless Sex||Jeff|
|2011||The Descendants||Cousin Milo||Final role (to date)|
|1957||Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans||Cochea||Episode: "The Wild One"|
|1959||Hudson's Bay||Jeremy Warrant||Episode: "Pierre's Three Evils"|
|1970||Ironside||Man||Episode: "Noel's Gonna Fly"|
|1970||Dan August||Mike Foschke||Episode: "The Soldier"|
|1971||Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color||Alcide||Episode: "The Boy from Dead Man's Bayou"|
|1971||The Partridge Family||Lester Braddock||Episode: "Not With My Sister, You Don't!"|
|1971||Longstreet||David De Carie||Episode: "So, Who's Fred Hornbeck?"|
|1972–1974||The Rookies||Officer Willie Gillis||47 episodes|
|1979||Tales of the Unexpected||Tommy||Episode: "The Man from the South"|
|1985||Kids Don't Tell||John Ryan||Television film|
|1986||The Right of the People||Christopher Wells||Television film|
|1989||The Hitchhiker||Gordon Brooks||Episode: "Square Deal"|
|1990–1991||Twin Peaks||Sheriff Harry S. Truman||30 episodes|
|1990||In Defense of a Married Man||Robert||Television film|
|1991||In a Child's Name||Ken Taylor||Miniseries|
|1992||Legacy of Lies||Zach Resnick||Television film|
|1993||Rapture||Jeff Lisker||Television film|
|1993||Whose Child Is This? The War for Baby Jessica||Jan DeBoer||Television film|
|1993||Bride of Violence 2||Hank Parnell||Television film|
|1994||Family Album||Ward Thayer||Miniseries|
|1999||PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal||John Doe / Wesley Addison||Episode: "John Doe"|
|1996||The Man Next Door||Eli Cooley||Television film|
|1996||The Stepford Husbands||Mick Davison||Television film|
|1997–2000||The Outer Limits||Dr. Field / Dr. Charles McCamber||2 episodes|
|1998||A Chance of Snow||Matthew Parker||Television film|
|2000||Green Sails||John Scott||Television film|
|2002||A Killing Spring||Tom Keaton||Television film|
|2004||Ghost Cat||Wes Merritt||Television film|
|2004–2005||North Shore||Gordon Matthews||4 episodes|
|2008||Sophie||Victor Hearst||3 episodes (Final television role to date)|
Awards and nominations edit
|1990||Genie Award||Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role||Bye Bye Blues||Nominated|
|1991||Soap Opera Digest Award||Outstanding Hero: Prime Time||Twin Peaks||Nominated|
- Rose, Mike (24 January 2023). "Today's famous birthdays list for January 24, 2023 includes celebrities Neil Diamond, Aaron Neville". Cleveland.com. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
- Jason Buchanan (2015). "Michael Ontkean". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015.
- "CTVA Canada – "Hudson's Bay" (1959–60)". Archived from the original on 25 December 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
- "Michael Ontkean profile". HockeyDB. 28 January 2019.
- O'Connor, John (16 March 1975). "TV View". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
- Holden, Stephen (24 August 1990). "Review/Film; Balladlike Wartime Tale Of Maturing". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
- Rutledge, Leigh (1996). The Book of Lists. Boston: Alyson Publications. p. 135. ISBN 978-1555833596.
- Baker, Robin; Hanson, Briony (1996). Celluloid Icons. London, UK: Channel 4. p. 17. ISBN 978-1851441723.
- O'Connor, John J. (6 April 1990). "TV WEEKEND; A Skewed Vision of a Small Town In 'Twin Peaks'". The New York Times.
- "'Twin Peaks': Watch 'Fire Walk With Me' lost scenes before entire series hits Blu-ray -- EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- "Michael Ontkean Filmography". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2015. Archived from the original on 23 June 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
- Dom, Pieter (8 October 2015). "Actor Michael Ontkean Not Picking up Harry S. Truman's Sheriff Badge for the New Twin Peaks". welcometotwinpeaks.com.
- Testa, Yohana (4 May 2017). "Who's Missing from This Spine-Tingling Twin Peaks Teaser?". Vanity Fair.
- "Mildred Smith". Marshall Democrat-News. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
- "Jamie Jackson Design Director and Owner". Jamie Jackson Design. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- "FASHION I". Sadie Sapphire. Retrieved 5 August 2018.