- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Quinn Redeker, who came up with the original script and Russian roulette idea for The Deer Hunter before starring as shady characters on the soap operas Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless, has died. He was 86.
Redeker died Dec. 20 of natural causes in Camarillo, California, his daughter, Arianne Raser, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Early in his career, Redeker appeared in The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962) and Jack Hill’s Spider Baby or, the Maddest Story Ever Told (1967), then graduated to more prestige fare, working with Robert Redford in The Candidate (1972), The Electric Horseman (1979) and Ordinary People (1980).
Inspired by a Life magazine article about a man who played Russian roulette for the camera, Redeker contacted screenwriter Louis Garfinkle in 1974 about teaming on a movie script about a guy in the Bahamas who made a living at the hazardous game.
Garfinkle saw Russian roulette as “a perfect metaphor for the war in Vietnam,” he said in Lawrence H. Suid’s 2002 book, Guts and Glory: The Making of American Military Image in Film.
He told Redeker: “The war in Vietnam is current. Nobody I touching it. It seems to me that we can develop something that will perfectly delineate the problem Americans have living with a gun at their heads. That is a condition man should not have to live with.”
After 22 drafts, they sold their script, “The Man Who Came to Play,” revolving around two American POWs in a Cambodian prison camp, for $19,000 to producer Michael Deeley, who got director Michael Cimino involved.
Deric Washburn, who had shared a writing credit with Cimino on the Douglas Trumbull-directed Silent Running (1972), took a crack at the screenplay. He, Redeker, Garfinkle and Cimino then wound up with a screenplay and/or story credit — and an Oscar nomination — on the best picture winner The Deer Hunter (1978).
Hard as it is to believe, Redeker said he had to convince Cimino not to cut “the roulette business” from the war drama, which saw Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken take part in the film’s signature sequence.
“There I was on Beverly Boulevard pleading with Cimino to keep [that] in,” he said in 1987. “He was never interested in that.”
Quinn Kellogg Redeker was born on May 2, 1936, in Woodstock, Illinois. He grew up in a Seattle boarding house for divorced women that his mother had set up, then played tackle on the Queen Anne High School football team that captured the city championship in 1953.
After starting out as a stand-up comic, Redeker studied acting with Sandy Meisner and in 1960 played a magazine photographer on the Sunset Strip-set NBC crime drama Dan Raven.
In The Three Stooges Meet Hercules, he portrayed the nerdy next-door neighbor whose time machine transports him, his girlfriend and the Stooges back in time to ancient Greece.
The dashing Redeker joined NBC’s Days of Our Lives in 1979 as the devious Alex Marshall, whom he once described as “a self-serving pig.”
“When Alex first came on, he killed a couple of people,” he recalled. “But [the producers] decided they kind of liked me, and they let me start doing the comedy. I started joking it up a bit” and did a lot of ad-libbing.
He departed the daytime show in 1987 when Alex is arrested for trying to burn down the Salem Inn for the insurance money and sent to prison, never to be seen again. However, he resurfaced later that year on CBS’ The Young and the Restless as the con man Rex Sterling.
(His character was married to Jeanne Cooper’s Kay Chancellor. When she was acting weird, he divorced her, but it turned out she was really an impersonator who had kidnapped his real wife.)
Redeker was nominated for supporting drama actor Daytime Emmys in 1989 and ’90 before leaving Genoa City and the serial in 1994 when Rex is fatally shot by a fellow con man.
He also appeared on such TV shows as Bonanza, That Girl, Mannix, The Virginian, The Bob Newhart Show, Fantasy Island and CSI: Miami and in films including Airport (1970), The Andromeda Strain (1971) and The Midnight Man (1974).
Redeker said working on daytime dramas allowed him to pursue what he really wanted to do, which was screenwriting.
“The soap opera is 20 minutes of work a day so I can spend the rest of the time writing 10 pages a day in my dressing room. … No, acting isn’t very fulfilling, but, gee, it’s a great buck,” he said in 1989.
After The Deer Hunter, he noted that “Hollywood bought my next five scripts, then didn’t make them.”
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his other children, Brennen, Glaen and Quinn Jr., and his grandchildren, Keihen and Quinn.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day