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Al Strobel, the “One-Armed Man” in Twin Peaks, Dead at 83

He appeared in every iteration of the David Lynch series, including its 2017 revival

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Al Strobel in Twin Peaks: The Return (Showtime)

    Al Strobel, the actor best known for portraying Phillip Michael Gerard a.k.a. the “One-Armed Man” in Twin Peaks, has died at 83.

    The news was announced on Saturday by Twin Peaks producer and longtime David Lynch collaborator Sabrina Sutherland via Facebook, who shared, “I am sad to have to post that Al Strobel passed away last night. I loved him dearly.” No further details have been released at this time.

    Strobel was born in Seattle in 1939 and settled in the Pacific Northwest region for most of his life. At 17 years old, he lost his left arm in a car accident, and he later pursued a career in the performing arts while living in Oregon. During this time, he founded the Church of the Creative commune and worked as an architect for the group. In 1972, he assisted with the Grateful Dead’s legendary “Sunshine Daydream” benefit concert in Eugene, Oregon, where he helped construct camera towers and also contributed footage to the concert’s accompanying film. He recently elaborated on his experience at the event in an interview for the band’s official podcast.

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    His screen acting career launched with 1986’s Shadow Play, but Strobel landed his most iconic role in 1989 as the “One-Armed Man” in David Lynch’s surreal murder mystery series, Twin Peaks. Over two seasons, Strobel played Phillip Gerard, an unwilling host to an evil entity named “Mike” who is revealed to have severed his arm in an attempt to reject the demonic possession. Originally cast in a non-speaking background part, Lynch made Strobel a recurring character and tasked him with reciting the show’s crucial “Fire Walk with Me” monologue. He also starred in the show’s 1992 feature follow-up, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

    Aside from Twin Peaks, Strobel also delivered turns in 1990’s Megaville and 2001’s Ricochet River. He largely retired from acting until reprising his role as Gerard in Lynch’s 2017 revival series, Twin Peaks: The Return. He appeared in nine episodes total, which now stands as his final screen credit.

    Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost shared his condolences via Twitter, posting, “Oh no…. Dear Al… as those of you lucky enough to have met him over the years, what a warm and wonderful gentleman he was. RIP, friend.” Dana Ashbrook, who played Bobby Briggs on the original show and also came back for The Return, added, “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:)”

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    “As authentic an actor as I ever met,” Twin Peaks writer and producer Harley Peyton shared. “So precise so real.”

    The Return actress Adele René posted a photo of Strobel at a 2018 event with a caption reading, “With the moon as our light, many stories were told, but it was #AlStrobel that made those stories unforgettable. A sweet soul that will be missed.”

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