We have sad news to pass along as character actor Walter Olkewicz, perhaps best known for his roles in the original Twin Peaks and the ’90s sitcom Grace Under Fire, has passed away. According to his son, Olkewicz died early on Tuesday morning at his Reseda home in Los Angeles. He was 72 years old.
While the exact cause wasn’t revealed, the actor had reportedly been struggling with various health issues for the past 20 years. He also had a series of knee surgeries that caused infections and left Olkewicz bedridden. It was also these health problems that caused Olkewicz to step aside from acting.
Walter Olkewicz was born on May 14, 1948, in Bayonne, New Jersey. After college, the aspiring actor would start appearing in classic TV shows like Taxi, Barney Miller, and Alice. He would make his movie debut in the 1976 movie Futureworld, the sequel to the 1973 Michael Crichton movie Westworld. More roles were quick to follow, with Olkewicz moving on to play Private Hinshaw in Steven Spielberg’s war movie 1941 the following year. He’d later with work Joel Schumacher on the 1994 legal thriller The Cllient as mafia lawyer Jerome “Romey” Clifford.
Olkewicz would also appear in movies like Making the Grade, The Big Picture, Stuart Saves His Family, and Par 6. He has also appeared in a slew of popular television shows, primarily well-known comedy series like Cheers, Newhart, Married… With Children, Family Ties, and Dharma & Greg. He’s also had memorable roles on programs like ER, L.A. Law, Murder, She Wrote, and Moonlighting. Olkewicz is also memorable for Seinfeld fans after he played Nick the cable guy in a 1996 episode.
On Grace Under Fire, Olkewicz had a recurring role as Dougie Boudreau, a co-worker of the titular Grace (Brett Butler) as a Missouri oil refinery. He played the role for the show’s first four seasons. In the sitcom world, Olkewicz is also known for playing Tiny McGee on Who’s the Boss? and Walter Plimp on Night Court.
One of the character actor’s most widely celebrated roles is as Canadian Jacques in the first season of David Lynch’s ABC series Twin Peaks in 1990. The character would later return for Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me in 1992 and Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces in 2014. His final acting credit came in 2017 when he returned to the role one last time for the 2017 reboot of Twin Peaks on Showtime.
“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,” Olkewicz’s son said.
Olkewicz’s survivors include his son, screenwriter Zak Olkewicz; a daughter-in-law, screenwriter and actress Katrina Rennells; and grandchildren Sadie and Declan Robert. Our thoughts go out to them and the rest of Olkewicz’s family and friends at this painful time. As an actor who had the ability to make every role of his memorable, no matter how big or small it might have been, Walter Olkewicz certainly left his mark on this world. He will be missed. Rest in peace. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.