It is Cult Faction’s sad duty to announce that Jan-Michael Vincent passed away back on February 10th 2019 after suffering cardiac arrest while a patient at a North Carolina hospital The news has only recently been made public.
Known globally for his role as Stringfellow Hawke in Airwolf, Vincent was at one time one of the highest paid actors on TV earning $250,000 a week but it is believed by many that his alcoholism, which had begun to have a serious impact on his work during Airwolf caused his decline. In later projects he would occasionally show up completely inebriated, unaware of the scene being shot and unable to say his lines; footage of which can be sadly found online.
Vincent made his debit in 1967’s The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Chinese Junk. This led to roles in Lassie, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, The Survivors, The Persuaders!, and The Catcher.
In 1972, Vincent played Steve McKenna opposite Charles Bronson in the cult hit The Mechanic, and continued his career with roles in Police Story, Vigilante Force, and The Winds of War.
Following Airwolf, Vincent remained active with roles on the big and small screen including Renegade and Nash Bridges; in 1996 Vincent was involved in car crash resulting in a broken neck. The accident resulted in permanent damage to his voice as Paramedics had to insert a tube down his throat to get him breathing and the tube damaged one of his vocal cords. When asked about the accident he reflect “Y’know, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I don’t remember being in an accident.”
More misery followed on September 21st 2000, when Vincent was sentenced to 60 days in jail after admitting that he violated his probation by being drunk in public three times between January and July 2000 and with his July 20, 2000 arrest for an altercation with his wife. He then enrolled in a live-in substance abuse treatment program, where he will returned after serving his jail term. Tragedy struck again in 2012 when Vincent nearly died from an infection that required his right leg to be amputated. He noted in 2014 that he was “lucky to be alive” and was now living out his days as a recovering alcoholic.
As tragic as his career became, Vincent still inspired a generation of wannabe helicopter pilots who still watch Airwolf through all its reruns (not Airwolf 2 though!).