David Nance Biography & Facts
Marvin John Nance (December 21, 1943 – December 30, 1996) was an American actor. A longtime collaborator of filmmaker David Lynch, Nance portrayed the lead in Lynch's directorial film debut Eraserhead (1977). He continued to work with Lynch throughout his career, including as a series regular on the ABC mystery drama Twin Peaks (1990–1991).
Nance was born in Boston, Massachusetts and was raised in Dallas, Texas. He graduated from South Oak Cliff High School. Nance worked for some time with the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. In the 1970s, Nance met David Lynch, who cast him as the lead in Eraserhead.
After Eraserhead, he remained on good terms with Lynch, who cast him in nearly all of his projects:
Dune (1984): a small role as the Harkonnen Captain Iakin Nefud.
Blue Velvet (1986): a supporting role as Paul, a friend of Dennis Hopper's villain character.
The Cowboy and the Frenchman (1988): plays Pete, one of the cowboys.
Wild at Heart (1990): a small role as "00 Spool".
Twin Peaks (1990–91): as Pete Martell, the henpecked sawmill gaffer.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992): reprised his role as Pete Martell, but his scenes were deleted.
Lost Highway (1997): a small role as a garage mechanic named Phil (his final acting role).
Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (2014): deleted scenes from Fire Walk with Me were released in 2014 as its own film.
Twin Peaks (2017): footage featuring Nance from the pilot episode of the original series was used in "Part 17," which was dedicated to Nance.Nance also guest-starred on a 1995 episode of My So-Called Life entitled "Weekend", in which he played an innkeeper. He also appeared with actress Mary Woronov in Suicidal Tendencies' 1983 "Institutionalized" music video.
Nance married Catherine E. Coulson in 1968, but the couple divorced in 1976. In May 1991, he married Kelly Jean Van Dyke, who worked in the adult film industry under the name Nancee Kelly. Van Dyke was the daughter of Jerry Van Dyke (briefly making Nance his son-in-law) and niece of Dick Van Dyke.
Second wife's suicide
Van Dyke committed suicide on November 17, 1991. According to her younger brother Richard, Nance, who was in Bass Lake, California, filming Meatballs 4 at the time, attempted to console her on the phone as she threatened suicide. After a lightning storm knocked out the phones in Bass Lake, Nance and the director, Bobby Logan, found a deputy sheriff who contacted Los Angeles police and the apartment manager. They broke in and found that she had hanged herself.
On December 29, 1996, Nance lunched with friends Leo Bulgarini and Catherine Case. Nance had a visible "crescent shaped bruise" under his eye; and, when asked about it, he related to them the story about a brawl outside a Winchell's Donuts store on the morning of December 29. He described the incident as, "I guess I got what I deserved." He soon went home, complaining of a headache.
The injuries he sustained caused a subdural hematoma, resulting in his death the following morning. His body was discovered on the bathroom floor of his South Pasadena, California apartment by Bulgarini, on December 30, 1996. An autopsy revealed that the actor's blood alcohol level was 0.24% at the time of his death.
The song "I Gotta Move" by Frank Black and the Catholics, from their 1997 eponymous debut album, refers to the circumstances of Nance's death, as well as the murder of Peter Ivers, composer of the score to Eraserhead.
A documentary about Nance funded by Lynch, titled I Don't Know Jack, was released in 2002.
Part 17 of Twin Peaks: The Return was dedicated to Nance.
Crime Story (1 episode, 1987) – Charlie Green
Tricks of the Trade (1988) – Al
Twin Peaks (27 episodes, 1990–91) – Pete Martell
Another Midnight Run (1994) – Reilly
My So-Called Life (1 episode, 1995) – Warren
Fallen Angels (1 episode, 1995) – Sheriff
Assault on Dome 4 (1996) – Mellow, Dome 4 Oldtimer
Twin Peaks (1 episode, 2017) – Pete Martell (archive footage)Music videos
"Institutionalized" (Suicidal Tendencies music video, 1983)References
Jack Nance at IMDb
Jack Nance at Find a Grave
Jack Nance Eraserhead Interview
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