Obituary: Actor Michael Sarrazin, 1940-2011

Michael Sarrazin movie sceneMichael Sarrazin, a handsome, sensitive-looking leading man who was a staple in movies throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, died of cancer on Sunday, April 17, 2011. He was 70 years old.

Disc Dish’s favorite film starring Mr. Sarrazin was 1975’s The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, a creepy horror mystery about a college professor who begins to experience eerie flashbacks from what he believes a previous life incarnation. Directed by J. Lee Thompson, the film foresaw a slew of life/after-life movies that we’ve seen over the subsequent decades, including The Sixth Sense (1999), What Dreams May Come (1998) and Dead Again (1991).

Unfortunately, Peter Proud has never been released on DVD, so it might be hard to track down (even on VHS). Here are five other films featuring the late Mr. Sarrazin that we recommend and are a bit easier to obtain.

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? movie scene

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)
Sarrazin’s co-starring turn as Jane Fonda’s partner in a Depression-era dance marathon in this Sidney Pollack classic remains one of his most memorable — and undoubtedly grueling — performances.
Available on DVD from MGM/20th Century Fox

Frankenstein: The True Story (1973)
This fine TV mini-series adaptation of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein afforded the handsome leading man an opportunity to turn pretty darn ugly and violent in his role as The Monster. And the necessary pathos that the story demands was deftly handled, as well.
Available on DVD from Universal Studios

For Pete’s Sake (1974)
This comedy about a cab driver and his wife trying to raise some cash to invest in pork bellies was silly and forgettable, but it proved that Sarrazin could hold his own opposite notorious scene-stealing diva Barbra Streisand (Little Fockers).
Available on DVD from Sony

The Seduction movie scene

Saturday Night Live: Season 3, Episode 17 (1978)
Sarrazin’s hosting duties on a third season SNL installment showed that the man could generate some laughs on live TV. Most memorable was Sarrazin’s turn in the brilliant “Josh Ramsey, V.D. Caseworker” sketch, wherein he portrayed a public health clinic representative determined to let locals  know about STDs in their community by publicly revealing the names of all the townsfolk who were infected!
Available on DVD from Universal Studios

The Seduction (1982)
An erotic thriller from the days before Cinemax was broadcasting them nightly on television, The Seduction contains one of the genre’s great sexy slayings: At the climactic moment of passion in his lovemaking session with star Morgan Fairchild, Sarrazin is stabbed in the back by psychotic stalker Andrew Stevens!
Available on DVD from Anchor Bay

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.