Robert Z’Dar, who is most well known for his role in the cult film classic Maniac Cop, died at the age of 64 in Pensacola, Florida, on Monday evening. He was hospitalized when he came into town to appear in Pensacon.
Robert J. Zdarksy was born on June 3, 1950 in Chicago, Illinois, to Lithuanian parents. Robert found his love for acting while attending Provo West High School in Hillside, Illinois. After high school, Z’Dar went to Arizona State University to study acting, and he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts four years later.
In the early 1980’s, Z’Dar made the move to Hollywood to pursue his acting career. Robert landed his first film role in 1984 when he was cast in Code Name Zebra. The film was about a group of ex-soldiers who decided to form an international crime unit. Z’Dar would go on to appear in several other feature films, including The Night Stalker and Dead End City, before appearing in the film he became most recognizable for. In 1988, Z’Dar played Matt Cordell in the movie Maniac Cop, about an NYPD police officer who becomes a serial killer. He also appeared in the sequel, Badge of Silence.
By the end of his career, the six-foot-two actor had appeared in more than 121 films, including the mainstream hits Tango and Cash and Mobsters that co-starred Christian Slater. Z’Dar also appeared on the hit television show Growing Pains.
Robert was easily recognizable by his large face and jutting jawline. He was a regular at conventions around the country, including his last appearance at Pensacon. The show is a multigenre convention that occurs annually and attracts hundreds of media personalities, as well as thousands of attendees.
Longtime manager and friend Jim Decker said that Z’Dar had been hospitalized after experiencing severe chest pains while he attending the Pensacon show. According to Decker, Robert was starting to recover, but took a turn for the worse on Monday night when he went into cardiac arrest.
“We talked every day,” Decker said. “We’ve been together through thick and thin. He was the first actor I took on in my career as an agent. We spent many weekends on the road together and a lot of time enjoying each other’s company. I miss him dearly.”
Z’Dar is survived by his brother, Billy Zdarsky, and his nephew, Matthew. Decker says anyone wishing to send condolences to Z’Dar’s family may do so through his email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Photo courtesy of Dread Central]