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Home Alone Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

There is often a melancholy feeling to Christmas celebrations and traditions; underneath the lights and tinsel is an understanding that another year has passed, and perhaps those friends and family we celebrated with in the past are no longer with us. 

Even high-concept family comedies like the 1990 holiday classic "Home Alone" and its sequels have a heartfelt nostalgia at their core. Kevin McAllister (Macauley Culkin) wishes for his family to disappear at Christmas, and as far he understands the next morning, that's exactly what happens. For Kevin, it's a short-lived dream come true, as he soon realizes how much he loves and misses his parents and older siblings. For his parents (John Heard and Catherine O'Hara), it's their worst nightmare come to life, but one with a happy ending; their reunion at the end of the film underlines how important it is to value family, as we never know when we might not see them again.

For many families, watching "Home Alone" is itself a holiday tradition; those who were children when the first film came out might now have children of their own to delight in Kevin's slapstick battles against the incompetent Wet Bandits (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern). The films' actors become family friends of a sort who visit once a year; their 1990 selves are preserved like insects in ember, but in real life all of them have aged, and some are no longer with us. Here is a list of "Home Alone" actors you may not know have passed away.

Clarke Devereux

"Tell 'em to count their kids again," the officer sent to do a wellness check on Kevin says in a thick Chicago accent in the first "Home Alone." That officer is played by Clarke Devereux; his one-scene role is notable not just for how seemingly unconcerned he is that a child has gone missing, but also for the fact that he doesn't announce himself as a police officer, which would have probably allayed Kevin's fears about answering the door, thereby ending the film about an hour earlier.

Devereux makes a brief appearance as an NYPD detective in "Home Alone 2" as well; in fact, his film career was mostly limited to the films made by his son-in-law Chris Columbus, including "Adventures in Babysitting," "Only the Lonely," and "Rent." A Chicago native, Devereux fought in the Korean War and raised his family in the Oak Park and River Forest suburbs. In Columbus' films he was a welcome bit of local color, and his tough guy roles were in direct contrast to the dedicated father and community leader he was in real life. Devereux died of cancer in November 2021.

Marian Seldes

Marian Seldes appears in 1997's "Home Alone 3" as Mrs. Hess, the grumpy neighbor of our new hero Alex (Alex D. Linz) who, just like Old Man Marley and the Pigeon Lady before her, seems scary at first but concludes the movie as a new friend. 

Mrs. Hess kicks the film's needlessly complicated plot into motion by picking up the wrong shopping bag at the San Francisco airport. Instead of a loaf of sourdough bread, she now has a remote control car toy, which she gives to Alex as payment for shoveling her driveway badly. Little do they know, however, that the toy contains a state-of-the-art microchip bound for North Korea, and a group of bumbling international smugglers is breaking into neighborhood houses looking for it.

Seldes' career on screen spanned seven decades and over one hundred film and television roles. Like many theatre actors, she was a mainstay on television during its golden age, making multiple appearances on "General Electric Theatre," "Kraft Theatre," "Omnibus," and more. In later years she would be recognizable to audiences as the mother of Murphy Brown and of Mr. Big on "Sex in the City." Her main love, however, was the stage. Seldes was nominated for five Tony awards across her career, winning for Edward Albee's play "A Delicate Balance" in 1967 and receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. She was a longtime educator at Julliard and Fordham University in New York, counting Robin Williams, Laura Linney, Viola Davis, and more as pupils. Seldes died in 2011 at age 86.

Eddie Bracken

Longtime comic actor Eddie Bracken plays Mr. Duncan, the kindly owner of Duncan's Toy Chest in "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York." Christmas is naturally the busiest time of year down at the Toy Chest, and kindly old Duncan is planning to donate his profits (a giant crate full of cash kept in plain sight inside the store) to a children's hospital — that is, if the Wet Bandits don't steal it first. Luckily, Kevin McCallister is in town to foil their larcenous scheme.

A native New Yorker, Bracken got his start on Broadway in the 1930s. He made a number of films with director Preston Sturges, including 1944's "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" and "Hail the Conquering Hero." After 1953, Bracken mostly left his film career behind to concentrate on theatre and television; he appeared on Broadway in "The Seven Year Itch," "The Odd Couple," and "Hello, Dolly!," and guest starred on shows like "Rawhide" and "The New Dick Van Dyke Show." In 1983 he was cast in "National Lampoon's Vacation" as Roy Walley, the Disney-esque owner of Walley World. After that film's success he found a new audience in film, appearing in "Rookie of the Year" and "Baby's Day Out." In 2002, Bracken died due to complications from a recent surgery.

Ralph Foody

If you happened to be an elementary school student in 1990 or 1991, there is a solid chance that you or someone you know curled their lip and grunted "Keep the change, ya filthy animal!" in response to something or other, or perhaps for no reason at all. One of the most well-remembered quotes from "Home Alone" comes from character actor Ralph Foody as Johnny, the gangster glimpsed in the 1930s B-movie parody "Angels with Filthy Souls" — which apparently a lot of people (including Seth Rogen) thought was a real film. Foody and his trigger-happy alter ego appeared in "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" as well, when Kevin watches the sequel "Angels with Even Filthier Souls."

The tough-talking Chicago actor was a natural at playing both cops and crooks, appearing in "The Blues Brothers" as a police dispatcher and the short-lived 1985 police drama "Lady Blue" opposite Jamie Rose and Danny Aiello. He also worked with "Home Alone" writer John Hughes in the 1991 dramedy "Curly Sue." After "Home Alone 2," Foody retired with his wife Jan to Lexington, Kentucky; he died from cancer in 1999.

Billie Bird

Veteran stage and screen actress Billie Bird makes a cameo in "Home Alone" as Irene, whom Kate McCallister (Catherine O'Hara) tries to buy a plane ticket from in order to get back to Chicago. In exchange for taking a later flight, Kate offers the woman $500, a First Class upgrade, a pocket translator, a fake Rolex, a ring, and her earrings. When that fails to sway the woman's husband (Bill Erwin), Kate appeals to their emotional side.

Born in Pocatello, Idaho and raised in an orphanage, Bird was getting laughs on the vaudeville stage as early as age seven. She spent decades racking up small roles in film and television while simultaneously appearing on stage in plays and variety and burlesque pieces that she often wrote herself. During the Vietnam War she did USO tours with her solo comedy show "Flying High with Billie Bird," and was made an honorary Green Beret for her efforts. 

Despite being a literal showbiz lifer, Bird's most recognizable roles came in the last decade or so of her career. She worked with John Hughes in "Sixteen Candles" before "Home Alone," and afterwards in "Dennis the Menace," once again alongside Bill Erwin. In 1988 she appeared in another early millennial holiday classic, "Ernest Saves Christmas," then booked the most substantial role of her career on the Judd Hirsch hit sitcom "Dear John," which ran for four seasons. Bird died in 2002 from complications due to Alzheimer's Disease; she was 94.

Bill Erwin

Actor Bill Erwin plays Irene's husband Ed, who is impatient to board the plane and immune to Kate's bribes ("She's got her own earrings, a whole shoebox full of them — dangly ones!"). It is only after Kate admits how desperate she is to get on the plane that Ed relents. It is a brief but pivotal scene, as it allows O'Hara, Bird, and Erwin to play both the comedy and drama of the situation.

Born in Texas, Erwin served in World War II and made a brief appearance as a soldier in the 1941 Phil Silvers/Jimmy Durante comedy "You're In the Army Now." After attending the University of Texas, Erwin made the move to Hollywood and began appearing in roles on television and the stage, including "Wagon Train," "The Danny Thomas Show," and "I Love Lucy." 

Like his onscreen wife Billie Bird, Erwin's most recognizable roles came later in life. In 1980 he starred alongside Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour in the time travel romance "Somewhere in Time," and was a frequent guest at annual celebrations of the film hosted at the Mackinac Island hotel where it was filmed. On stage he wrote and performed in the solo show "Twisted Twain," where he played Mark Twain's long lost 160-year-old brother. A guest appearance on "Seinfeld" in 1992 earned him an Emmy nomination, and he booked appearances on "The Drew Carey Show," "Monk," and "My Name is Earl" in the years before his death. Erwin was also a published cartoonist and maintained a longtime friendship with sci-fi author Ray Bradbury. He died in December 2010 at age 96.

Roberts Blossom

Old Man Marley, played by Roberts Blossom, begins "Home Alone" as the stuff of Kevin's nightmares — a boogeyman who, according to Kevin's brother Buzz (Devin Ratray), murdered his entire family and salts the neighborhood streets in order to mummify their buried bodies. Kevin's fear of Old Man Marley is all-encompassing, until they encounter one another at a Christmas pageant performance at the local church. It turns out, Marley is nothing more than a lonely old man estranged from his son and granddaughter, someone who could benefit from Kevin's (somewhat condescending) childlike wisdom.

The intense-looking Blossom was an actor and poet. After serving in World War II, he moved to New York in the 1950s and booked roles on "Naked City" and "Studio One." Many of his most notable roles came in the 1970s; he starred as a serial killer based on Ed Gein in the horror film "Deranged," and appeared in "Escape from Alcatraz" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," where he played a UFO witness who also claimed to have seen Bigfoot. The 1980s and '90s saw him rack up a number of "strange old man" roles in "The Last Temptation of Christ," John Carpenter's "Christine," and Sam Raimi's Western "The Quick and the Dead." In 2000 a documentary was made of his life, James Abee's "Full Blossom." Blossom died in 2011 at age 87.

John Heard

So much of the heart in the first two "Home Alone" films is in the relationship between Kevin and his mother that it can be easy to forget that he has a father too — Peter, played by actor John Heard. It's never clear exactly what Peter does for a living to afford such a large home in suburban Winnetka and international flights for the extended family (the film's novelization mentions that he is a businessman, but delves no further into what that might mean), but he appears to be a caring and attentive dad to Kevin and his four other kids, even if he misses out on the big emotional moments that mother and son share.

Heard got his start on stage in the 1970s, appearing in off-Broadway and regional theatre productions such as the premiere of David Rabe's war drama "Streamers." It was a Shakespeare in the Park production of "Othello" that attracted the attention of director Ivan Passer, who cast Heard in the title role of the 1981 post-Vietnam drama "Cutter's Way," in which he (alongside Jeff Bridges) gave one of the all-time-great underseen performances of the era. 

Heard followed that up in collaborations with many of the best directors of the 1980s, including Paul Schrader in "Cat People," Martin Scorsese in "After Hours," and Penny Marshall in both "Big" and "Awakenings." He worked consistently throughout the 1990s and 2000s, often in smaller, less heralded roles; his best remembered role from this era was as Vin Makazian, the New Jersey detective on Tony Soprano's payroll on Season 1 of "The Sopranos." Heard died of cardiac arrest in 2017 at age 71.

John Candy

Comedy legend (and Catherine O'Hara's former "SCTV" co-star) John Candy played the part of Gus Polinsky, polka king of the Midwest, as a favor to his friend John Hughes, with whom he had made two recent hits, "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" and "Uncle Buck." The story goes that Hughes offered Candy a cut of the film's profits but Candy refused, both out of generosity and the reasonable belief that the film would flop. Instead, he was paid just a little over $400 for a day's work, while the film went on to gross hundreds of millions of dollars.

Candy got his start on stage at The Second City Toronto at age 19, and was a featured player alongside O'Hara on the sketch show "SCTV" from 1976 to 1983. During that time, he made a name for himself with scene-stealing supporting turns in Steven Spielberg's war comedy "1941," "The Blues Brothers," and the animated sci-fi anthology "Heavy Metal." Though a gifted comedian and improviser — he and O'Hara mostly ad-libbed their scenes in "Home Alone" — he began to expand into more dramatic work in the early 1990s. He reunited with Hughes and Chris Columbus for the romance "Only the Lonely," and took a heavy turn in Oliver Stone's "JFK," though he still appeared in family comedies like "Cool Runnings" and "Rookie of the Year." Candy died in 1994 at age 43 in Mexico while filming the Western comedy "Wagons East."