Actor Jan-Michael Vincent Dies, Aged 73

Jan-Michael Vincent

by James White |
Published on

Forever known to a generation of '80s TV watchers as Airwolf's Stringfellow Hawke, Jan-Michael Vincent enjoyed a career that stretched beyond the confines of a helicopter cockpit. The actor has died at the age of 73.

Born in Denver, Colorado in 1945, Vincent's family moved to California when he was young, and he graduated high school in Hanford in 1963. He spent three years at Ventura College, but failed to graduate, instead heading to Mexico to party. He served with the California National Guard before starting his acting career with 1967's The Bandits.

Other big screen work included The Mechanic, Damnation Alley, Defiance, Indecent Behaviour, and Buffalo '66, though his biggest success was probably 1978's surfing drama Big Wednesday.

But he saw more work on TV, signing a contract with Universal in the 1960s that saw him pop up on shows such as Dragnet, Lassie, Bonanza, Police Story, Gunsmoke and mini-series The Winds Of War, which saw him pick up a Golden Globe nomination. 1984's Airwolf was by far his most famous job,, and he played hotshot pilot Hawke for three years.

Vincent's career suffered due to his personal struggles with alcoholism and drug abuse, and he was slapped with restraining orders from at least one woman. He broke his neck in a car crash while chasing a girlfriend he'd been fighting with, and an infection in 2012 saw part of his right leg amputated. The actor is survived by his third wife, Patricia Ann Christ, and one daughter from his first marriage. He actually died on 10 Febryary, but his loss was not officially revealed until Friday.

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