Ernie Lively, the father of Blake Lively and a prolific actor in his own right, died in Los Angeles last Thursday at age 74 due to cardiac complications.
Ernie had an extensive film and TV career dating back to 1975 when he first appeared on The Waltons. The actor went on to make guest appearances on major shows such as Fantasy Island, The Dukes of Hazzard, Seinfeld, The X-Files, The West Wing, That ’70s Show, and Murder, She Wrote. He also appeared on the big screen in Turner & Hooch, The Beverly Hillbillies, Simon Says, The Man in the Moon, Showdown in Little Tokyo, Air America, American Pie 2, and notably as Blake’s on-screen father in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and it’s sequel. According to the Hollywood Reporter, before launching his on-camera career, Ernie was also an English professor and served in the Vietnam War as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corp before going on to mentor a number of young actors.
And he didn’t pass down his love of performing exclusively to Blake. His other four kids—Eric Lively, Robyn Lively, Lori Lively, and Jason Lively—also have successful acting careers of their own. In addition to his five children, Ernie is also survived by his wife of 42 years, Elaine, his sister Judith, and his nine grandchildren. In 2013, the actor underwent heart surgery in Utah after realizing that his heart was only partially functioning. Working with Dr. Amit Patel, a professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine’s Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Ernie became the first known patient to undergo heart retrograde gene therapy, which involves having his own stem cells injected into his heart to repair muscle and artery damage. He told People after the surgery, “I woke up the other morning and told my wife, ‘I haven’t felt this good in years.’ I moved to Utah because of the snow, but I haven’t been able to ski. I literally didn’t have the heart to do it. Now, I’m excited about living the rest of my life instead of sitting around. Dr. Patel saved my life.”
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