Kabari99-Robert Swan, the veteran character actor who appeared in key roles in the notable sports films Hoosiers, Rudy and The Babe, has died. He was 78.
Swan died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer at his home in Rolling Prairie, Indiana, his friend Betty Hoeffner told The Hollywood Reporter.
Swan also portrayed a Canadian Mountie in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987)
and a bloodied deputy in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994) and was other lawmen in Who’s That Girl (1987) and Mo’ Money (1992).
In Hoosiers (1986), his character, the Indiana farmer Rollin Butcher,
Has two sons on the Hickory High School basketball team, and he’s one of the few people in town
to welcome new coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman). Later, he joins Coach Dale on the bench as a Huskers’ assistant.
Swan then reunited with Hoosiers director David Anspaugh to play a priest in another classic underdog sports flick, Rudy (1993), starring Sean Astin.
In between those films, he was the father of New York Yankees slugger George Herman Ruth in Arthur Hiller’s The Babe (1992), starring John Goodman.
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Born in Chicago on Oct. 20, 1944,
Swan sang at the Church of St. Paul & the Redeemer in Hyde Park as a youngster and with the chorus at the Lyric Opera
and Chicago Symphony. He also acted in theaters around town and made it to Broadway in 1974 in The Freedom of the City.
In his first film, Somewhere in Time (1980),
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he played a stagehand who fights with Christopher Reeve’s character in the year 1912.
His big-screen résumé also included Take This Job and
Shove It (1981), Doctor Detroit (1983), Randal Kleiser’s Grandview, U.S.A. (1984),
That Was Then … This Is Now (1985), Costa-Gavras’ Betrayed (1988) and Ron Howard’s Backdraft (1991).
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Swan worked alongside Jane Fonda in the 1984 ABC telefilm The Dollmaker, based on the Harriette Arnow novel and directed by Daniel Petrie,
and appeared on All My Children as the bad guy Jeb Tidwell — Spenser for Hire and The Equalizer.
He also was a voice actor in commercials for United Airlines, Busch and Schlitz beer,
Nine Lives cat food and the Beef Industry Council and founded and performed at the Harbor County Opera in Three Oaks, Michigan.
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Survivors include his wife, Barbara;
Brothers David and Charles; sister-in-law Elizabeth; nephews Christopher, Bryan and Daniel; and dogs Baci and Chico.
Swan had written and was shopping a screenplay, The Saint and the Scoundrel, about Samuel Johnson,
the English lexicographer who published A Dictionary of the English Language in 1755 and suffered from Tourette syndrome.
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A celebration of life at a date to be announced will feature a reading of the screenplay featuring Hill Street Blues star Daniel J.
Travanti as Johnson, Si Osborne as his biographer and an actor to be named as the narrator, a role Swan dreamed of portraying.