Walter Olkewicz, the familiar character actor who played the bartender and croupier Jacques Renault on the original Twin Peaks and an oil refinery worker on Grace Under Fire, has died. He was 72.
Olkewicz died early Tuesday morning at his Reseda home in Los Angeles, his son, screenwriter Zak Olkewicz, told The Hollywood Reporter. He had struggled with health issues during the past 20 years and had a series of knee surgeries that caused infections, led to him being bedridden and forced him to take a break from acting.
Olkewicz also portrayed a mafia lawyer, Jerome “Romey” Clifford, whose death by suicide in front of two youngsters gets the plot rolling in the Joel Schumacher legal thriller The Client (1994).
On short-lived TV series, Olkewicz worked in a hotel kitchen on Gary David Goldberg’s The Last Resort in 1979-80; starred opposite Jeff Conaway on CBS’ Wizards and Warriors in 1983 and with Lynda Carter and Loni Anderson on NBC’s Partners in Crime in 1984; and played a character named Bubba on Dolly Parton’s 1987–88 ABC variety show.
Seinfeld fans know him as Nick the cable guy on the 1996 episode “The Cadillac,” and his heavy-set physique led to roles as Tiny McGee on ABC’s Who’s the Boss? and Walter Plimp on NBC’s Night Court.
Olkewicz was memorable as the crooked Canadian Jacques, brother of Michael Parks‘ Jean and Clay Wilcox’s Bernie, on the first season of ABC’s Twin Peaks in 1990, and his character was there again in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) and Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (2014).
He returned for the show’s 2017 Showtime reboot, his final credit. “It was his first role in almost 15 years, and he did it all from behind a bar to cover the fact that he couldn’t stand,” his son noted.
Olkewicz also recurred as Dougie Boudreau, a co-worker of Brett Butler’s character at the local Missouri oil refinery, on the first four seasons (1993-96) of the ABC sitcom Grace Under Fire.
Born on May 14, 1948, in Bayonne, New Jersey, Olkewicz attended Bayonne High School, St. Mary of the Plains College in Kansas and Colorado State University before making his onscreen debut in Futureworld (1976).
He played Private Hinshaw in Steven Spielberg’s 1941 (1979) and went on to appear in other films like Making the Grade (1984), Christopher Guest’s The Big Picture (1989), Stuart Saves His Family (1995) and Par 6 (2002).
Olkewicz also made an impression on episodes of The Rockford Files, Taxi, Barney Miller, Cheers, Newhart, Falcon Crest, ER, Family Ties, Married … With Children, Moonlighting, L.A. Law, Murder, She Wrote, Dharma & Greg and Brooklyn Bridge and on the 1982 miniseries The Blue and the Gray.
In addition to his son, survivors include his daughter-in-law, Katrina Rennells, an actress and screenwriter, and grandchildren Sadie and Declan Robert.