Philip Baker Hall, ‘Magnolia’ and ‘Boogie Nights’ star, dies at 90


Veteran actor Philip Baker Hall, who lent his appeal to several Paul Thomas Anderson films, including “Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights,” has died at the age of 90, neighbor Sam Farmer said Monday.

“My neighbor, my friend, and one of the wisest, talented, and kindest people I ever met, Philip Baker Hall, passed away peacefully last night. He was surrounded by his loved ones. Farmer, a sports writer for the Los Angeles Times, tweeted.

Although Hall’s cause of death has not been announced, he suffered from emphysema and was dependent on an oxygen tank, Washington Post reported in 2017.

Hall’s collaboration with Anderson began with the 1993 short film “Coffee and Cigarettes,” which became Anderson’s debut in 1996, “Hard Eight.” The role earned Hall a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Leader.

Born in Toledo, Ohio on September 10, 1931, Hall first appeared in the 1970 film “Cowards” about draft dodging in the Vietnam War.

His many films also include “The Rock”, “The Insider”, “The Talented Mr. Ripley”, “Zodiac”, “Argo”, “Air Force One” and “Dogville”.

Hall, whose first television appearance was in an episode of “Good Times,” played a doctor in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and an angry neighbor in “Modern Family.” Years later, he was still known for his role as “Bookman” on an episode of “Seinfeld”. His last TV role was as Zelman Katz in the 2020 Netflix series “Christ”.

He received glowing notices and a Drama Desk Award for his solo role as disgraced ex-President Richard Nixon in the 1984 play “Secret Honor,” a role he reprized in Robert Altman’s film of the name. His performance was a revelation to critics Roger Ebertwho wrote: “Nixon was portrayed by Philip Baker Hall, an actor I had never known, with such brutal intensity, such passion, and poison, and scandal, that we cannot turn away.”

Vincent Canby of The New York Times said, “Mr. Hall’s performance is phenomenal, astonishing and risky… like that of Academy Award-winning F. Murray Abraham in ‘Amadeus.'”

The actor has often played powerful characters such as military officers and judges, including Judge Julius Hoffman in 2011’s “The Chicago 8″. “The judges were driving me crazy. I didn’t want to do any more of it,” Hall told the Washington Post. “You can never walk around. You’re sitting there behind the desk, like you’re a god.”

Hall was married to Diane Lewis, with whom he had two children, from 1973 to 1976, and he married Holly Wolfe in 1981, with whom he had two daughters, Adela and Anna.