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Linda Manz, also known by her married name Linda Guthrie, an actress in Days of Heaven and Out of the Blue, died Friday, according to a social media post from family members. She was 58.
A GoFundMe page set up by her son Michael Guthrie for funeral expenses notes that Manz died after battling lung cancer and pneumonia. “Linda was a loving wife, a caring mom, a wonderful grandma and a great friend who was loved by many,” wrote Guthrie via the page.
Manz was born in 1961 in New York City. Her first role came at age 15 in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, as a young teen who travels with her older brother and his girlfriend, itinerant workers jumping freight trains in the Texas Panhandle of the World War I era. Those latter roles were played by Richard Gere and Brooke Adams, respectively, in a seminal 1970s classic that also starred Sam Shepard as the wealthy farmer who represents the third point in a tragic romantic triangle. Manz’s flavorful narration was a key part of the 1978 film’s poetic spell.
She went on to appear in Philip Kaufman’s 1979 drama The Wanderers alongside Ken Wahl. The film was based on the Richard Price novel about an Italian American teen street gang. On Facebook, Wahl posted several polaroid pictures of Manz from the movie and wrote, “She was great to work with and I’m grateful that I got to speak with her before she passed this morning.”
Manz starred alongside director Dennis Hopper in his 1980 cult drama Out of the Blue, a Cannes competition entry in which she played a rebellious young fan of Elvis Presley and punk music, at odds with her ex-con father, played by Hopper.
She was coaxed out of acting retirement by director Harmony Korine in 1997 to play the tough-love mother of Solomon, one of the marginalized adolescent outsiders in Gummo, an unconventional drama set in a small Ohio town that had been hit by a tornado.
“I had always admired her,” said Korine in an interview in Index Magazine at the time. “There was this sense about her that I liked — it wasn’t even acting. It was like the way I felt about Buster Keaton when I first saw him. There was a kind of poetry about her, a glow. They both burnt off the screen.”
One of her co-stars in Gummo, Chloë Sevigny, was among indie film artists championing the restoration and re-release of Manz’s small but indelible filmography. Sevigny called Manz her favorite actress, while Natasha Lyonne was another former child actor who expressed admiration for her unique gifts as a teen performer. “The world at large doesn’t always make sense to me, and there are safe havens,” said Lyonne in a 2013 feature in Interview magazine. “Linda Manz in Out of the Blue is one of them.”
Manz’s final screen credit came the same year as Gummo, with a small role as the roommate of Deborah Kara Unger’s character Christine in David Fincher’s mystery thriller The Game, which starred Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. The actress also appeared in the short-lived 1979 CBS sitcom Dorothy.
Among those who contributed to the GoFundMe campaign, one donor remembered her “unforgettable, powerful, quietly nuanced” film performances, while many referenced the large impact she made with just a few great roles.
Manz is survived by her husband, camera operator Bobby Guthrie, sons Michael and William, and three grandchildren.
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