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‘The Deer Hunter’ acting icon who inspired Wolverine dead aged 76

Actor Paul D’Amato – who inspired the Wolverine comic character and featured in the wedding scene of ‘The Deer Hunter’ – has died aged 76 credit:Bang Showbiz
Actor Paul D’Amato – who inspired the Wolverine comic character and featured in the wedding scene of ‘The Deer Hunter’ – has died aged 76 credit:Bang Showbiz

Actor Paul D’Amato – who inspired the Wolverine comic character and featured in the wedding scene of ‘The Deer Hunter’ – has died aged 76.

He was best known for playing a jaded green Vietnam veteran alongside Robert De Niro in 1978’s Vietnam epic ‘Deer Hunter’ but also played a range of characters in police TV drama ‘Law and Order’, and his family said he passed away on Monday (19.02.24) following a four-year battle with a rare brain disease.

His fiancée Marina Re told The Hollywood Reporter he was the “most wonderful, sweetest guy” who fought “so hard” against his illness.

Paul’s co-star in 1977 ice hockey comedy drama ‘Slap Shot’ Steve Carlson also confirmed the news of his death in a post on X, in which he said: “RIP Paul D’Amato. “Sending heartfelt condolences to Family and fellow friends, actors.”

It was the late actor’s acting as ‘Dr Hook’ in ‘Slap Shot’, which also starred Paul Newman that inspired X-Men comic book character Wolverine.

Cartoonist John Byrne said of the star: “He just had the look. He had the crazy eyes. And that’s what Wolverine needs to have.”

In his later years, Paul worked as a boot fitter in a Vermont ski shop and

is survived by his sister Andrea and girlfriend Marina Re.

Born in Worcester and later raised in Spencer, Massachusetts, he started working as a stage-hand when he was about 14, which inspired him to become an actor.

He was both an athlete and actor and appeared in theatre productions and on the ice hockey team while attending Emerson College.

Paul also appeared in a string of benefit golf tournaments and sports gatherings, including the Enfield tournament, which he played in for about 10 years and raised funds for scholarships.