Actor, writer, and stand-up comic Rick Ducommun, best known for his hilarious performances in such classics of cinematic comedy as The ‘Burbs and Groundhog Day, has passed away. He was 58.
Born on July 3, 1956 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Ducommun began his acting career on the short-lived Canadian children’s television program Zig Zag. After a series of bit parts in various films and TV shows, he co-starred with future Oscar-winning superstar Tom Hanks in the cult classic dark comedy The ‘Burbs as a paranoid suburbanite who suspects that the new family in their neighborhood are a gang of Satan-worshiping psychopaths.
Four years later, Ducommun appeared as Punxsutawney, PA’s lovable resident blue collar slob Gus (“Hey Phil, if we wanted to hit mailboxes, we could let Ralph drive.”) in the brilliant Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day.
Joe Dante, who directed Ducommun in The ‘Burbs, paid tribute to the late actor yesterday in a series of Twitter posts:
Dante went on to reveal that Ducommun beat out his fellow Canadian comic greats Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis for the role of Art and “knocked it out of the park.” According to the director, most of the funnier material Ducommun had in the movie was ad-libbed. The actor later appeared in a cameo in Dante’s big-budget 1990 sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
Ducommun’s other film appearances include the original Die Hard, Last Action Hero, The Last Boy Scout, Encino Man, The Hunt for Red October, and Scary Movie. Fans of the kiddie cult oddity Little Monsters will recognize him as the loathsome villain Snik.
In short, if you had HBO or your parents were members of a nearby video store in the late ’80s and early ’90s, chances are you saw Rick Ducommun almost on a daily basis. He could play good guys and bad guys with equal conviction and spirit, and always brought great humor to every show and movie of which he was a part. Ducommun will definitely be missed. Our hears go out to his family, friends, and fans all over the world.