Childhood & Early Years
John Heard Jr. was born on March 7, 1946 in Washington, D.C., USA. His father, John Henry Heard, was in charge of installations and properties at the office of the Secretary of Defense. His mother, Helen nee Sperling, was a museum guide, who also performed in the community theatre.
He had one brother and two sisters. One among his sisters was Cordis Heard, who later became a renowned actress. His brother, Mathew, died in 1975.
In 1964, he graduated from Gonzaga College High School and then entered Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, graduating from there in 1968. Thereafter, he briefly pursued Master’s degree in theater at the Catholic University of America; but left the institution midway to start his career.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
In 1970s, John Heard began his career on stage, appearing in various Off Broadway productions including Mark Medoff's ‘The Wager’ (1974). However, he got his first break, when in 1975 he was selected as an understudy for Sam Waterston in Michael Rudman’s ‘Hamlet’.
Also in 1975, he debuted in television film, ‘Valley Forge’. Later in 1977, he debuted in films, starring as Harry Lucas in ‘Between the Lines’ and as David Bonner in ‘First Love’. Concurrently, he continued to appear in various plays including ‘G. R. Point’.
In 1979, he was cast in the lead role of Charles in the romantic-comedy film, ‘Head Over Heels’, which would later be re-released as ‘Chilly Scenes of Winter’. Also in the same year, he returned to television with ‘The Scarlet Letter’, concurrently continuing to appear in plays like ‘Othello and Split’.
By early 1980s, John Heard had established himself as a major American actor, starring in films like ‘Heart Beat’ (1980), ‘Cutter’s Way’ (1981), and ‘Cat People’ (1982). Concurrently, he continued to appear on stage, receiving critical acclaim for his performance in the Off Broadway production ‘The Chekhov Sketchbook’ (1980).
From 1984 to 1989, he appeared in fifteen films, more notable of them being ‘C.H.U.D’ (1984), ‘The Trip to Bountiful’ (1985) and ‘Big’ (1988). Also from this period, he was more regular on television, giving an extraordinary performance as David Stephenson in ‘Cross Fire’ (1989).
In 1990, he appeared in five films, the most famous of them being ‘Home Alone’, starring in it in the role of Peter McCalliste. He would later reprise the same role in its sequel, ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’ (1992).
In 1990s, apart from ‘Home Alone’ and its sequel, John Heard acted in twenty-four films, appearing in side roles in most them. However, he also starred in few well-received movies; such as ‘Radio Flyer’ (1992), ‘Pelican Brief’ (1993), ‘One Eight Seven’ (1997) etc. Concurrently, he continued to be active on television.
In 1995-1996, he appeared as Roy Foltrigg in 21 episodes of ‘Client’. Appearing as Larry Mason in the television film, 'Perfect Murder, Perfect Town' (2000) and as Detective Vin Makazian in five episodes of ‘The Sopranos’ (1999-2004) were few other notable works of this period.
As the new millennium approached, he continued to work, starring in popular films like ‘Animal Factory’ (as James Decker) and ‘Pollock’ (as Tony Smith). In all, he appeared in around sixty films in the last two decades of his life.
The last film released in his lifetime was ‘The Last Rampage’ (2017) while his last appearance on television was on ’What Must Be Done’ episode of ‘Outsiders’. Two other films, ‘The Tale’ and ‘Living Among Us’, in which he starred as William P. Allens and Andrew respectively, were released posthumously.
Family & Personal Life
On August 25, 1979, Heard married actress Margot Kidder. But they separated after six days only and their divorce was finally granted on December 26, 1980.
In mid 1980s, he began a relationship with actress Melissa Leo. They had a son, John Matthew Heard, born in 1987.
In 1988, he married Sharon Sue Petersen, having two children, Annika Rose and Maxwell John, with her. They divorced in 1996.
On 24 May 2010, he married his third wife, Lana Pritchard. But the marriage lasted for seven months only and they divorced on 22 December 2010.
On July 21, 2017, John Heard died of a heart attack in Palo Alto, California and was buried in South Side Cemetery in Ipswich, Massachusetts.