The Unsung Heroes of Hollywood: Marshall Bell

While we all adore and root for the stars and starlets of tinseltown, there is a treasure-trove of good men and women who have been integral to the success of all our favorite films. Bona fide, hard working and talented people who may never star in a film or see their name on a poster hanging in the local cineplex but will never escape our minds and imaginations when it comes to some good iconic and funny roles they play. This column is a tribute to the “Oh, That Guy” types, the common actor and the B-listers. They are the…


Marshall Bell

marshall-bellAge: 74

Number of Film & TV Roles: 130

Notable Roles: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge; Stand By Me; Cherry 2000; Johnny Be Good; Twins; Total Recall; Dick Tracy; The Chase; Airheads; The Puppet Masters; Operation Dumbo Drop; Truth or Consequences, N.M.; The Brave; Starship Troopers; Capote; Rescue Dawn; The Astronaut Farmer; Nancy Drew

Typical Role: A-hole authority figure (coach, dad, cop, deputy, lawyer, judge, warden, general, colonel, admiral, etc.)

Why He’s Great: Marshall Bell has been a go-to military jerkwad for years and always does a terrific job, but what I’d like to focus on in observance of Father’s Day is his outstanding work as Gordie’s jerkwad dad in Stand By MeStand By Me is a classic which features one of the greatest tales of friendship to ever hit the screen, but it also feature’s one of cinema’s whiniest characters in Gordie LaChance. While a gifted storyteller, Gordie rarely wastes an opportunity to flatline everyone’s good time. What does this have to do with Marshal Bell as his father? Well, one of the main plot points of the film is the way Gordie’s family deals with the death of Gordie’s older brother, who was like the perfect teenage son. Because of this, Mr. LaChance’s most memorable line in the movie is, “It should’ve been you, Gordie.” Even though it was in a dream sequence, it’s still completely devastating and probably the worst thing you could ever say to someone aside from, “Let’s eat at Applebee’s” or, “Let this lobster pinch your scrotum” or, “Let this lobster pinch your scrotum at Applebee’s.” HOWEVER… Dream Mr. LaChance was 100% right. It absolutely, unquestionably, without question should have been Gordie.

Biography (via Wikipedia): Bell was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he lived until age 13. His family then moved to Denver, Colorado. Bell attended boarding school at St. Paul’s, Concord, New Hampshire, but was expelled. He then went to the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, where he became interested in acting after performing as Elwood Dowd in the play Harvey.

Bell was discouraged by others, however, who told him he was not a good enough actor, and did not act again for over 20 years. He attended the University of Colorado, majoring in sociology, and served three years in the Army. He eventually became a consultant, teaching business executives to improve their speaking skills.

He is married to Milena Canonero, a renowned Oscar-winning costume designer.

In the early 1980s, British director/producer Alan Parker offered Bell a small role in a movie at the suggestion of American producer Fred Roos.

Bell’s movie debut was in the role as Ronsky in Alan Parker’s drama Birdy (1984). After Birdy, he played Gerry Jones in the Fred Roos comedy Seven Minutes in Heaven (1985). His first major role was as the cruel Coach Schneider in the slasher/horror A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985). Bell played Mr. Lachance, Gordie’s grieving father, in the adventure/drama Stand by Me (1986); the ruthless hitman, Webster, in the comedy Twins (1988) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito; and George, who has mutant Martian resistance leader, Kuato, attached to his stomach, in director Paul Verhoeven’s blockbuster science fiction/adventure Total Recall (1990) starring Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin.

He made his TV acting debut in the series The Oldest Rookie in 1987, playing Det. Gordon Lane. Bell starred as Ford Plasko in the short-lived series G vs E. His many guest appearances include Hill Street Blues, Wiseguy, Tales from the Crypt, The X-Files, Millennium, Deadwood and House. He has also appeared in a TV commercial for IBM.

Other movie roles include Lips’ Cop in the action/crime thriller Dick Tracy (1990) opposite Warren Beatty; the title role of a frightening homeless man terrorizing Bill Paxton’s character in the comedy/thriller The Vagrant (1992) opposite Paxton and Michael Ironside; General Owen in the science fiction/adventure Starship Troopers (1997); the warden, Marshall Krutch, in the award-winning biopic Capote (2005) opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman; John Leshing in the family/mystery Nancy Drew (2007) opposite Emma Roberts; and Principal Rocker in the comedy Hamlet 2 (2008). Bell also played the voice acting role as Mr. Sesehund in the animated feature Heidi 4 Paws (2008).

He and Michael Ironside starred in three movies: Total Recall, The Vagrant, and Starship Troopers. Marshall Bell is now voicing Jack Taggart in the animated short The Xtacles.

Bell stars in the upcoming comedy The Rock ‘n Roll Dreams of Duncan Christopher.

Over the last 3 years, Bell has played the role of United States’ founding father Alexander Hamilton in several television commercials for Citizen Bank

Marshall Bell and his wife, Milena, live in West Hollywood, California.

Marshall Bell Clips:

5 thoughts on “The Unsung Heroes of Hollywood: Marshall Bell

  1. Wait a second… Do you actually like Stand By Me?!?! Oh my god! We can be friends!!! : ) But lay off Gordie. I love Gordie. I mean, he wasn’t as cool as Chris Chambers… But just be nice! His father was a dick! One of Marshall Bell’s Tales From The Crypt episodes was Forever Ambergris, which gets views on my blog EVERY single day for some reason. Weird. : )


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