In the 1960s, he found comfort in the counterculture movement and hippie ethos.
“My career was doing well, but I wasn’t getting anything out of it personally,” he told The New York Times in 1988. “What I was looking for I was finding in another place, which was in that revolution. The ’60s allowed me to live my childhood as an adult. That kind of freedom, imagination and creativity that arose all around was like a childhood to me.”
After a few years off, he returned to acting only to learn that his time away had led Hollywood casting agents to forget him. For about a dozen frustrating years, he struggled to land roles, appearing in fringe films and performing in dinner theater.
“I even heard about a casting meeting where the producer said, ‘We need a Dean Stockwell type,’” he told The Times in 1988. “Meanwhile, I couldn’t even get arrested.”
In the early 1980s, he quit acting again, moving to Santa Fe, N.M., to sell real estate. His next comeback would be his most successful, beginning a decade of his most critically acclaimed work.
In 1988, he was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for “Married to the Mob.” The next year, he was cast in “Quantum Leap,” starring opposite Scott Bakula as Sam Beckett, a scientist who, because of a botched time-travel experiment, spends his days and nights being thrown back in time to assume other people’s identities.
Reviewing the series for The Times in 1989, John J. O’Connor described Mr. Stockwell as “Mr. Bakula’s indispensable co-star.” Clutching a cigar and sporting “a wardrobe of odd punk-western outfits,” Mr. Stockwell portrayed Adm. Al Calavicci, “Sam’s wiseguy colleague, who hangs around the edges of each episode, setting the scene and commenting on the action,” Mr. O’Connor wrote.
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