Unforgettable Kenneth Welsh as Villain on ‘Twin Peaks’ dies at 80

Kenneth Welsh, a prolific Canadian stage and film actor best known for playing the murderous, greedy villain Windom Earle on the hit television series “Twin Peaks” in the early 1990s, died May 5 at his home in Sanford, Ontario. He was 80 years old.

His longtime manager, Pam Winter, said the cause was cancer.

Mr. Welsh appeared in 10 episodes of “Twin Peaks” in its second season and played Earle, the vengeful, maniacal foe and former FBI partner of main character Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan).

Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, the series follows Cooper as he investigates the murder of high school student Laura Palmer in the seemingly sleepy town of Twin Peaks.

Earle has appeared in darker, more sadistic scenes and story lines in a series known for bending genres, mixing horror and surrealism with soapy and sometimes funny elements.

In the years following its cancellation by ABC in 1991 and the cliff flying of “Twin Peaks” It developed a cult following and produced a prequel movie, “Fire Walk With Me” (1992), which returned for a limited series that premiered on Showtime in 2017. Welsh’s character was not featured in either project.

Mr. Welsh was cast after visiting the set in Washington State and meeting with the show’s producers, Robert Engels and Mr. Frost.

Mr. Engels “knew I was a little eccentric and knew I was going this way and that as an actor,” said Mr. Welsh. said in an interview On entertainment site 25YL, he added: “He knew I was crazy and perfect for Windom. I think?”

Mr. Welsh said he was the one who successfully came up with the idea of ​​Earle wearing different disguises as he followed Cooper and various other characters.

Mr. Welsh has had success playing extraordinary characters such as Larry Loomis, the Sovereign Protector of a dying brother cult, the Lynx Order, at the center of “Lodge 49,” a short-lived comedy-drama series that premiered on AMC in 2018. and 2019.

But in more than 240 film and television roles, he’s featured in sketch comedy (Amazon’s latest revival of “The Kids in the Hall”), science fiction (“Star Trek: Discovery in 2020”), family dinners (2003 Disney TV movie “Eloise”). at the Plaza” and historical dramas; and Thomas Edison in the 1998 telefilm “Edison: The Wizard of Light,” for which he twice received President Harry S. Truman and Emmys for the television films “Hiroshima” (1995) and “Haven” (2001). He revived the nomination.

Notable roles in the film include the vice president of the United States and the father of Katharine Hepburn (played by Cate Blanchett) for Martin Scorsese’s Oscar, in Roland Emmerich’s “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004), which chronicles the beginning of an ecological catastrophe. was taking. – winner “The Aviator”(2004).

Mr. Welsh has won five Canadian Screen Awards, four television appearances and a supporting role in the 1995 film “Margaret’s Museum,” a drama set in a coal mining town on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. He was elected a member of the Order of Canada in 2003.

Kenneth Welsh was born on March 30, 1942, in Edmonton, Alberta, to Clifford and Lillian (Sawchuk) Welsh. His father worked for the Canadian National Railroad for over 35 years and his mother worked in a clothes shop.

Kenneth was the inaugural class president of Bonnie Doon Composite High School in Edmonton. He attended the University of Alberta, where he majored in drama, and then the Canadian National Theater School, graduating in 1965.

He went on to collect many credits on stage, including his Shakespeare productions at the Stratford Festival in Ontario. Notably, he starred with Kathy Bates in the original Off Broadway production of “Clair De Lune” in 1987 and appeared on Broadway in Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing” (1984), directed by Mike Nichols. Lincoln Center in production of Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes” (1997), with Glenn Close.

His final stage performance was in Dylan Thomas’s “Under Milk Wood” at Toronto’s Coal Mine Theater in 2021.

Drawing on his encyclopedic memory of Shakespeare’s works, Mr. Welsh was a co-creator with composer Ray Leslee. “Stand up Shakespeare” In his own words, “a colorful musical” that opened Off Broadway in 1987. Also directed by Mr Nichols, the production featured audience members suggesting Shakespeare characters, scenes or plays for Mr Welsh to recite. In the following years, he would occasionally perform “Stand Up Shakespeare” as a signature piece in various parts of the United States and Canada.

Mr. Welsh’s marriages to Corinne Farago and Donna Haley ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife Lynne McIlvride, a visual artist, and son Devon, a musician, from his first marriage.

In the final phase of his career, Mr. Welsh shifted his attention to independent projects and young filmmakers. Her last movie was “Midnight at the Paradise,” a drama directed by Vanessa Matsui, which is now in post-production. He played the key supporting role of a film critic nearing the end of his life, alongside Alan Hawco and Liane Balaban.

On set, Ms. Matsui said Mr. Welsh fascinated her colleagues.

“He was always telling the cast and crew funny stories from his life and he blew us all away with his performance and grace,” he said in an email. “I’ll never forget shooting this one scene with him and Allan Hawco and you could hear a pin drop because the crew was so impressed with his performance. It was one of those special, intangible moments on set when you know you’ve got the magic.”

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