Lenny Von Dohlen

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Lenny Von Dohlen
Leonard Harold Von Dohlen IV[1]

(1958-12-22)December 22, 1958
DiedJuly 5, 2022(2022-07-05) (aged 63)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1981–2022

Leonard Harold Von Dohlen IV[2] (December 22, 1958 – July 5, 2022) was an American television, film, and stage actor.[3][4][5] With a 40-year career that primarily featured work in independent films and guest appearances on numerous prominent series, he was probably best known for his performance as architect Miles Harding in the film Electric Dreams (1984),[6] the title role as a steelworker's son opposite Karl Malden in Billy Galvin (1986), and as the orchid-loving agoraphobe Harold Smith in the television series Twin Peaks and its prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.[7]

Early years[edit]

Von Dohlen was born on December 22, 1958, in Augusta, Georgia, and raised in Goliad, a small town in south Texas.[4][8] He had German ancestry from his paternal grandfather and French Cajun ancestry from his maternal grandfather. As a child he wished to become a jockey, but grew too tall for his dream.[8] He studied Theater at the University of Texas, and graduated from Loretto Heights College in Denver, Colorado.[8] From there he moved to New York City to pursue a career on the stage, saying in an interview: "I knew I wanted to go to New York City to work in the theater ... so I rid myself of my Texas accent by listening to John Gielgud records. Then, after I got to NYC, the first film I was offered was to play the leader of a country & western band in Texas. Ahh, irony."[8]


Lenny Von Dohlen's film debut was in the Academy Award-winning 1983 film Tender Mercies, starring Robert Duvall, as a young country musician seeking the advice of a former star living quietly in rural Texas.[7][9] The following year, Von Dohlen played the lead role in the cult film Electric Dreams, as a shy architect who finds himself competing romantically with his computer for the affection of his neighbor, which Roger Ebert called "perfect casting".[6][9][10] Other early movie roles include: Under the Biltmore Clock (1985); the title role in Billy Galvin (1986) opposite Karl Malden; Dracula's Widow (1987); Blind Vision (1992); Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992); Jennifer 8 (1992); and Ed Zwick's Leaving Normal (1992).[9]

He appeared in acclaimed independent films such as Tollbooth (1994), Bird of Prey (1996), One Good Turn (1996), Entertaining Angels (1996), Cadillac (1997) and Frontline (1997),[9][11] and played one of the villains in Home Alone 3 (1997).[9]

In 2007 he appeared in Beautiful Loser,[12] and in Teeth, a Sundance and Berlin Film Festival Dramatic Competition nominee.[9] In 2010 he played Elder Daniel in Downstream[13] and in the same year he played Sheriff Jack Carter in a short film called Night Blind (2010).[14] In 2012/13 he was seen in Camilla Dickinson and White Camellias.[15]

In 2015 he played the title role of fictional legendary film director Oskar Knight in the mockumentary Near Myth: The Oskar Knight Story.[16][17][18]


Von Dohlen's first television role was a bit part in NBC's Emmy-award-winning Kent State (1981).[19] He is well-known for portraying agoraphobic orchid lover Harold Smith in David Lynch and Mark Frost's 1990 TV series Twin Peaks.[7] In 2010, for its homage to Twin Peaks, Von Dohlen appeared in USA Network's show Psych in the episode Dual Spires, playing Sheriff Andrew Jackson joining a cast reunion including Sheryl Lee.[20]

Others television roles include Don't Touch, directed by Beau Bridges; The Equalizer; Tales From the Darkside; Miami Vice; thirtysomething (1987); The Lazarus Man (playing John Wilkes Booth), He appeared on The Flash as Jason Brassell who creates a clone of The Flash/Barry Allen known as Pollux in 1991 episode "Twin Streaks". Picket Fences (playing the gay brother of Marlee Matlin's character (1992)); as the diabolical Mr. Cox in a recurring role on The Pretender (1999); Walker, Texas Ranger (1996); and Chicago Hope (1999).[9][11] He appeared in the Masterpiece Theatre presentation of Eudora Welty's The Ponder Heart (2000) on PBS.[21]

In 1992, he played a government agent of a future fascist state in the BBC's Red Dwarf series V, episode 6, Back to Reality.[22] In 2017 he appeared in Episode 12 of Seth MacFarlane's futuristic sci-fi Fox series The Orville, as the priest Valondis.[23]


In the theater, Von Dohlen created roles in the New York productions of Asian Shade,[24] The Team,[8] Twister,[25] Vanishing Act,[26] and The Maderati,[26] the latter two by Richard Greenberg. For nine months he starred in Caryl Churchill's play Cloud 9, directed by Tommy Tune,[27][28] followed by The Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Desire Under the Elms, opposite Kathy Baker.[29][30][31]

He starred in Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Joe Orton's Loot, Legacy of Light at the Cleveland Play House,[32] Lanford Wilson's one-man play "A Poster of the Cosmos", and "Doubt" at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.[32] On the West Coast, Von Dohlen was seen in Wedekind's Lulu at the La Jolla Playhouse, and The Blue Room at the Pasadena Playhouse, Theater District at the Black Dahlia Theater.[32] In Pasadena at The Theater at Boston Court, Von Dohlen both originated the role of the famous literary personality Voltaire in the world premiere of Jean Claude van Italli's Light and played Don Quixote in Tennessee Williams's Camino Real.[32][33] In 2012 at GTC, he played Elyot Chase in Noël Coward's Private Lives.[34][35]

Personal life[edit]

He died on July 5, 2022, after a long illness. His death was announced by his sister Catherine on Facebook three days later. He had a daughter, Hazel, and a partner, playwright James Still.[3][4] He predeceased his mother, Gay Von Dohlen; and siblings Mary Gay, Catherine and John David.[4] His father, Leonard, died in 2009.[36] Von Dohlen was married to Marina Drujko, a model, from 2007 to 2008.[37][unreliable source?]



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Kent State Uncredited TV movie[19]
1983 Tender Mercies Robert [38]
Sessions Paulie TV movie[39]
How to Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days Erik Crimpley TV movie[40]
1984 Electric Dreams Miles Harding [38]
1984 (film) "Under the Biltmore Clock" Knowlton Whitney
1986 Billy Galvin Billy Galvin [38][19]
1989 Dracula's Widow Raymond [38]
1991 Cold Heaven Hotel Clerk (uncredited) [41]
Love Kills Jonathan Brinkman TV movie[38]
1992 Leaving Normal Harry Rainey [38]
Jennifer 8 Blattis Cameo[42]
Eyes of Beholder Janice Bickle [38]
Blind Vision William Dalton [38]
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me Harold Smith [38]
1994 Amberwaves Justin Campenella [38]
Tollbooth Jack [38]
1995 Bird of Prey Johnny McKenna [38]
1996 One Good Turn Matt Forrest [38]
Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story Forster Batterham [38]
1997 Cadillac Jimmy [38]
Home Alone 3 Burton Jernigan [38]
1999 Frontline Ludwig Haig [11]
2000 Breathing Hard Anton [38]
The Ponder Heart DeYancey Clanahan TV movie[43]
2003 How's My Driving? Adrian Kennet Short[44]
2007 Teeth Bill [38]
2008 Beautiful Loser Reggie (adult) [12][45]
2010 Downstream Elder Daniel [13]
Night Blind Sheriff Jack Carter Short[14]
2011 Choose Creepy guy in hotel [46]
2012 Camilla Dickinson Bill Rowan [15]
Annie and the Gypsy Gordon [47]
2013 Dark Power Bill Davies [48]
2015 Broken Horses Joe [49]
2016 Threshold Dr. Clair [50]
2017 Ray Meets Helen Armond [19]
Just Within Reach Mr. Baker [51]
2018 The Maestro Luc (Rejected Student) [39]
Near Myth: The Oskar Knight Story Oskar Knight [16][17][18]
2019 Nasty Harry Ryals Short[52]
We Shall Overcome Mr. Frost Short[53]
2020 For the Weekend Doug [54]
2022 Creator Doctor Richard Cooper Short[55]
TBA Sallywood Dave Posthumous release[56]


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Miami Vice Bob Rickert Episode: "Give a Little, Take a Little"[19]
1985 ABC Afterschool Specials Mike Rivers Episode: "Don't Touch"[57]
Tales From The Darkside Mr. Smith Episode: "Distant Signals"[19]
1986 American Playhouse Knowleton Whitney Episode: "Under the Biltmore Clock"[38][19]
The Equalizer Dan Turner Episode: "Shades of Darkness"[38][19]
1988 Thirtysomething Roy MacCaulay Episode: "We'll Meet Again"[58]
1989 The Young Riders Lt. Josey Cassidy Episode: "End of Innocence"[59][60]
1990 Grand Jeremy 3 episodes[61]
Twin Peaks Harold Smith 4 episodes[38]
1991 The Flash Jason Brassell Episode: "Twin Streaks"[62][63]
1992 Red Dwarf Cop Episode: "Back to Reality[64]
1996 Picket Fences Gerald 'Gerry' Bey Episode: "Bye-Bye, Bey-Bey"[39]
Walker Texas Ranger Adam 'The Hangman' Quinn Episode: "Hall of Fame"[39]
1999 Chicago Hope Tom Van Deusen Episode: "A Goy and His Dog"[39]
1999–2000 The Pretender Mr. Cox 5 episodes[39]
2000 The Magnificent Seven Cyrus Poplar Episode: "Penance"[39]
2002 CSI: Miami Professor Adam Metzger Episode: "A Horrible Mind"[38][39]
2007 Ghost Whisperer Steve Wheeler Episode: "Children of Ghosts"[39]
2009 Criminal Minds Record Exec #1 Episode: "The Performer"[39]
2010 Psych Sheriff Andrew Jackson Episode: "Dual Spires"[65]
2017 The Orville Valondis Episode: "Mad Idolatry"[23]


  1. ^ "Lenny Von Dohlen, 'Twin Peaks' actor, dies at 63". NBC News. July 8, 2022. Retrieved May 17, 2023.
  2. ^ "Obituaries - Lenny Von Dohlen". Beeville Bee-Picayune. July 25, 2022. Retrieved May 12, 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Lenny Von Dohlen, Keeper of Laura Palmer's Secret Diary on 'Twin Peaks,' Dies at 63". TheWrap. July 8, 2022. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d Pedersen, Erik (July 8, 2022). "Lenny Von Dohlen Dies: 'Twin Peaks' & 'Electric Dreams' Actor Was 63". Deadline. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  5. ^ Moreau, Jordan (July 8, 2022). "Lenny Von Dohlen, 'Twin Peaks' Actor, Dies at 63". Variety. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  6. ^ a b "Before Spike Jonze's Her, there was Electric Dreams". The A.V. Club. April 14, 2015. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
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  25. ^ Gussow, Mel (June 9, 1981). "Theater: 'Twister, 'Story of a Little Girl in a Big Wind". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  26. ^ a b Rich, Frank (February 20, 1987). "Theater: 'The Maderati' by Richard Greenberg". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  27. ^ Churchill, Caryl (ed.). Cloud 9.
  28. ^ "Cloud 9 at The Lucille Lortel Theatre – Production". Theatre Profile. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  29. ^ "Actors (L-R) Lenny Von Dohlen, Kathy Baker, Lee Richardson, Patrick Meyers and Tom Spiller in a scene from Roundabout Theatre's production of the play "Desire Under The Elms" (New York)". NYPL Digital Collections. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  30. ^ "Desire-Under-the-Elms_roundabout". American Theatre. March 14, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
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  36. ^ "Leonard Von Dohlen III Obituary (2009) San Antonio Express-News". Legacy.com. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
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  41. ^ "Cold Heaven". mondo-digital.com.
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  57. ^ O'Connor, John J. (November 6, 1985). "'Afterschool Special=' on Child Abuse". The New York Times.
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