Geno Havens, Veteran Casting Director, Dies at 75

Courtesy Kevin Bernhardt

He worked on films for George Lucas, Carl Reiner, Brian de Palma and Terrence Malick and helped jumpstart the careers of Dennis Quaid and Prince protege Apollonia.

Geno Havens, a casting director whose credits include Carl Reiner's The Jerk and Brian de Palma's Phantom of the Paradise, has died. He was 75.

Havens died Friday of complications from a stroke at USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, screenwriter, producer and actor Kevin Bernhardt told The Hollywood Reporter. They were friends for 30 years and worked together on several films.

Havens helped launch the acting careers of Dennis Quaid and Bernhardt's ex-wife, Purple Rain co-star and Prince protege Apollonia.

Havens also served as casting director on such films as More American Graffiti (1979) — he was a dialogue coach on the George Lucas original — and Alligator (1980), written by John Sayles, and he helped secure actors for Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven (1978).

Patrick "Geno" Havens studied acting at the University of Utah and later landed a job with a casting company led by Fred Roos and Mike Fenton.

Early on, he teamed with blaxploitation directors Arthur Marks and Jack Hill on such films as Detroit 9000 (1973), Bucktown (1975), Switchblade Sisters (1975) and Friday Foster (1975), starring Pam Grier.

His résumé also includes the Robert Blake 1970s ABC series Baretta and the films Hardbodies (1984), Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985), Maniac Cop (1988), Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1992) and The Last Days of Frankie the Fly (1996).

He more recently worked in casting and development with producer Elie Samaha and as a director of creative development for Timepiece Entertainment.

Havens, who stood less than 5-feet-tall, forged a career in Hollywood despite the fact that he was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder characterized by bones that break easily, when he was 22 months old.

"He never once talked about his physical problems," Bernhardt said. "He was an inspiration to anybody and everybody."

Survivors include a nephew.