The Waltons Actor Tom Bower Dies at Age 86: Statement

Character actor Tom Bower has died at the age of 86, his rep confirmed to Closer on Thursday, June 6. “Tom was an insanely great actor and human being. What a loss,” Marsha McManus of Principal Entertainment L.A. said in a statement.

He passed away in his sleep at his Los Angeles home on May 30, sister-in-law Mary Miller told The Hollywood Reporter.

Tom was a familiar face in movies and on TV. He played Dr. Curtis Willard on The Waltons and helped Bruce Willis‘ John McClane foil airport terrorists in Die Hard 2 as janitor Marvin.

He was most recently seen in Bob Odenkirk‘s AMC series Lucky Hank, playing his father Henry Devereaux Sr. in three episodes of the series in 2023.

Tom was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. Although he aspired to be a professional baseball player, he caught the acting bug in high school and headed to New York City, where he enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1956.

He studied at John Cassavetes Shadows Workshop, landing a role in the legendary director’s debut film, Shadows, in 1957.

Tom would go more than a decade before being able to make a living as an actor. He moved to Boston and became a private investigator. According to his sister-in-law, Tom was a founder of the Boston Repertory Theater and gave acting lessons to a young Al Pacino. The pair starred together in David Rabe’s play The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel in 1972.

The Waltons Actor Tom Bower Dies at Age 86 Statement
J. Vespa/WireImage

As a character actor, Tom appeared in numerous classic 1970’s TV shows, including The Bionic Woman, Kojak, Baretta, The Rockford Files, Barnaby Jones and Lou Grant. However, it was his 27-episode stint on The Waltons between 1975 and 1978 that made him a familiar face to audiences.

Dr. Curt hired Mary Ellen Walton, played by Judy Norton, to be his nurse after arriving in Walton’s Mountain, replacing the former doctor. The two fell in love and married, going on to have a son.

Tom’s character was written off as getting killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor but was brought back in a 1981 episode that took place in Florida with a different actor playing the part.

In a 2022 interview with Judy, 66, Tom explained what happened to cause him to be let go from The Waltons.

“I asked for a very small raise, so they sent me to Pearl Harbor,” he joked. “Then, when they decided to bring the character back, washed up on a shore somewhere — which I didn’t think was a great idea anyway — I asked for the same small raise. … They just cast a different actor.”

In addition to Die Hard 2, Tom appeared in such films as Two-Minute Warning, River’s Edge, Beverly Hills Cop II, True Believer, Raising Cain, Clear and Present Danger, North Country and The Hills Have Eyes.

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