Jan-Michael Vincent, famous for the series Airwolf which ran in the 1980’s, died of a heart attack on February 10th at the age of 73 or 74. Vincent was famous for his action roles, such as in the film The Mechanic, where he acted as a hitman under the apprenticeship of Charles Bronson.
After moving from Denver to California, Vincent appeared on such shows as Dragnet, Lassie, Bonanza, and The Survivors. He had been scouted for his good looks after serving in the California National Guard. In his role on The Tribe in 1970, his character was very fitting: a hippie who was sent to the Marine Corps.
What got him into the spotlight was his role in an ABC miniseries in 1983 called The Winds of War. Set in World War II, the series was based on a novel by Herman Wouk. In the show, Vincent played the son of a naval officer. It ran for 18 hours with an average of viewers in the ten millions. After this series, Vincent’s next big break was in the CBS action show Airwolf. On it, he played a character named Stringfellow Hawke, who piloted a special helicopter that could fly at supersonic speeds. It was here that Vincent was able to make $40,000 an episode. However, this also became a downfall, as he began consuming large amounts of cocaine which kept him out of bigger productions like A-list movies and eventually led to the cancellation of Airwolf in 1986.
Ten years later, Vincent was in a car accident that broke his neck and damaged his vocal cords. This left his voice with a permanent rasp. In 2012, he had his leg amputated due to peripheral artery disease. Unfortunately, he let drugs and alcohol take hold of his career, and became too drunk to recite his lines, causing him to bump down to D-grade shows and movies. According to an interview with Vincent in 1987, He credited his issues with coincidence. “A lot of my problems have been simply that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he told the Sunday Mail. A list of survivors from his family could not be confirmed.