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The Devastating Death Of Twin Peaks' Al Strobel

Al Strobel, best known as the infamous one-armed man Philip Michael Gerard in the "Twin Peaks" saga, died in Eugene, Oregon, on Friday, December 2. Strobel was 83 years old. Variety reported his death on Sunday, December 4, though the cause of death has not been announced at this time.

Mark Frost, co-creator of "Twin Peaks," retweeted a screenshot on Twitter from producer Sabrina Sutherland's Facebook on December 3 informing her followers of Strobel's death. "Oh no... Dear Al..." commented Frost, "as those of you lucky enough to have met him over the years, what a warm and wonderful gentleman he was."

Dana Ashbrook, who played Bobby Briggs in both "Twin Peaks" and "Twin Peaks: The Return," as well as in the prequel "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me," also took to Twitter to express his sadness. "Sad , sad news...love Al. He was the sweetest of men. A wonderful story teller... and to watch him roll a one handed cigarette- pure magic:)"

A life in the performing arts

Born Albert Strobel in Seattle, Washington, in 1939, Strobel lost his left arm in a car accident at 17. Later, when he moved to Eugene, Oregon, he became involved in theatrical work at the University of Oregon. He also built camera towers and shot footage for the Grateful Dead's August 1972 concert in Veneta that would wind up in their legendary "Sunshine Daydream" music documentary (via Consequence).

His film debut came in 1986 in the supernatural horror film "Shadow Play," which starred Dee Wallace and Cloris Leachman. Three years later, he would land the role that he is most remembered for when he was cast in David Lynch and Mark Frost's iconic surreal mystery series "Twin Peaks." "Twin Peaks" is recognized today as the project in which Lynch solidified his signature mixture of uncanny and melodrama. The inclusion of the one-armed man was a key part of establishing both the aesthetic of the show and its story.

Possessed by the demon known as "Mike," Philip Gerard was initially an accomplice of "Bob" (Frank Silva) before the latter demon possessed Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) and killed his daughter Laura (Sheryl Lee). Gerard's religious epiphany led him to sever his own arm to rid himself of a tattoo that allowed him to be demonically possessed, and he attempts to provide whatever assistance he can to Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) to stop Bob. Though the tattoo in the show is supposed to have read "fire walk with me," Strobel also had a tattoo on the arm lost in the car accident, though that one simply read "mom."

The return of the one-armed man

Strobel would go on to act in a handful of other movies and television series, including the 1990 direct-to-video sci-fi flick "Megaville" and the television horror movie "Child of Darkness, Child of Light." But it was the part of Philip Michael Gerard that would keep calling him back.

In 1992, Strobel returned to the role in the prequel "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me," in which he spoke the famed and mysterious titular monologue that gives the film its title. In 2017, though he had mostly retired from acting, he once again returned to play Gerard in "Twin Peaks: The Return." Strobel's character appears in a total of nine episodes and plays a pivotal role in the plot when he frees Agent Cooper from the Black Lodge after 25 years imprisoned there.

Recent years have seen several members of the "Twin Peaks" cast pass away. Catherine E. Coulson, who played the mysterious "Log Lady," died from cancer in 2015, just a few days after completing her final scenes for "The Return" (via AV Club). Miguel Ferrer, who played the mercurial FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield, also succumbed to cancer a few months before "The Return" premiered on showtime. Harry Dean Stanton, who reprised his role as Carl Rodd, and also worked with Lynch in "Wild at Heart" and "Inland Empire," passed away in 2017 at the age of 91, not long after the final episodes of "The Return" aired.