Angus Scrimm, the iconic horror actor best known for playing the “Tall Man” in Don Coscarelli’s cult classic, Phantasm, and four of its sequels — the last of which is set to be released later this year — has died. He was 89-years-old.
Born Lawrence Rory Guy in Kansas City, Kansas, Angus Scrimm — as he would later become known — moved to California as a teenager, to study drama at the University of Southern California under William C. DeMille, brother of renowned director Cecil B. DeMille. Before becoming an actor, Scrimm lent his talent to the world of journalism, having written and edited for publications such as the TV Guide, Cinema Magazine, and the Los Angeles Herald, among others. To make ends meet while trying to find work as an actor, Scrimm worked at Capitol Records for years, writing the liner notes for hundreds of LPs and CDs, for a wide range of musical acts including the Beatles and Frank Sinatra. In 1975, Angus Scrimm won a Grammy Award for his liner notes featured in the album Korngold: The Classic Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
In 1976, Angus’ big break came when he played the abusive father in Don Coscarelli’s directorial debut, Jim, The World’s Greatest, according to Fangoria. After a couple of small appearances in television shows, and a made-for-TV movie, in 1979, Coscarelli cast Scrimm in the role that would shoot him to legendary horror actor status — the Tall Man in the first Phantasm film. It was for this role that Lawrence Rory Guy became the household name of Angus Scrimm that we know today. Though Angus himself was actually fairly tall at 6-foot-4-inches, to play the role of the Tall Man in the Phantasm films, he wore suits that were sizes too small, and platform shoes to give him the towering and menacing stature that sent chills down movie-goers spines.
Though he is best known for his role in Coscarelli’s Phantasm films, Angus Scrimm can be seen in many genre films between the 1970s and today. Scrimm can be found playing Dr. Carrington in 1986’s Copping Mall; the vampire king, King Vladislav, in 1991’s Subspecies; opposite fellow horror icon Bruce Campbell in 1992’s Mindwarp; Buddy, the crazy guy locked in the basement, in Coscarelli’s short, Incident on and off a Mountain Road, for the Masters of Horror series; and of course, reprising his role as the Tall Man in this year’s Phantasm V: Ravager, which is currently listed as in post-production on IMDB.
News of Scrimm’s death came from his long-time friend and industry partner, Don Coscarelli, who first broke the news via Twitter, reports Dread Central.
“Angus Scrimm passed away peacefully tonight surrounded by his friends and loved ones. He was 89 years old. His performance as the Tall Man is a towering achievement in horror film history. He was the last in a long line of classic horror movie stars. Angus was a terrific actor and an even better friend. He will be missed.”
Since news of Scrimm’s death hit the internet, tributes from friends, fans, and fellow actors have been pouring in. Bruce Campbell tweeted “Angus Scrimm. Class act. Soft spoken. Old school. Honored to work with him. Credit to his craft. Safe passage,” in tribute to his friend.
Though the cause of Angus Scrimm’s death has not yet been revealed at this point, what is known is that for four decades, he shared his talent for fear with the world, and the shivers he’s given us will never be forgotten.
The incomparable Angus Scrimm is survived by his family, friends, and legions of loyal fans who will surely be saying one final goodbye to the Tall Man tonight by playing any one of his amazing films.
[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]