Movie Star Legend For Hoosiers, Dead At 78

Robert Swan, the esteemed character actor known for pivotal roles in renowned sports films such as “Hoosiers,” “Rudy,” and “The Babe,” has passed away at the age of 78. Swan’s demise came after an extended fight with cancer and occurred at his residence in Rolling Prairie, Indiana, as confirmed by his close friend, Betty Hoeffner, to The Hollywood Reporter.

In the cinematic world, Swan showcased his versatility. He played a Canadian Mountie in Brian De Palma’s “The Untouchables” (1987), appeared as a wounded deputy in Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers” (1994), and took on roles as law enforcement officers in movies like “Who’s That Girl” (1987) and “Mo’ Money” (1992).

In “Hoosiers” (1986), Swan portrayed the character of Rollin Butcher, an Indiana farmer with two sons on the Hickory High School basketball team. Butcher’s character was pivotal as one of the few in town who supported the new coach, Norman Dale (played by Gene Hackman). Swan’s character later becomes an assistant to Coach Dale.

Swan collaborated again with the “Hoosiers” director, David Anspaugh, for “Rudy” (1993), where he portrayed a priest. This film starred Sean Astin. Additionally, in “The Babe” (1992), Swan assumed the role of the father of the iconic New York Yankees player George Herman Ruth, with John Goodman starring as Babe Ruth.

Born on October 20, 1944, in Chicago, Swan was musically inclined from a young age. He performed at the Church of St. Paul & the Redeemer in Hyde Park and participated in the chorus at the Lyric Opera and the Chicago Symphony. His acting journey began in local theaters, culminating in a Broadway appearance in 1974 in “The Freedom of the City.”

Swan’s cinematic debut was in “Somewhere in Time” (1980), where he played a stagehand clashing with a character portrayed by Christopher Reeve. His extensive filmography includes titles like “Take This Job and Shove It” (1981), “Doctor Detroit” (1983), “Grandview, U.S.A.” (1984), “Betrayed” (1988), and “Backdraft” (1991) directed by Ron Howard.

In television, Swan’s talent was evident in the 1984 ABC telefilm “The Dollmaker” alongside Jane Fonda. He also featured in shows such as “All My Children,” “Spenser for Hire,” and “The Equalizer.” Beyond acting, Swan lent his voice to commercials for brands including United Airlines, Busch beer, and Nine Lives cat food. He founded and performed at the Harbor County Opera in Michigan.

Robert Swan is survived by his wife, Barbara, brothers David and Charles, sister-in-law Elizabeth, nephews Christopher, Bryan, and Daniel, and his pets, Baci and Chico.

Before his death, Swan was actively promoting a screenplay titled “The Saint and the Scoundrel.” The story revolves around Samuel Johnson, the prominent English lexicographer known for publishing A Dictionary of the English Language in 1755, who also had Tourette syndrome. Plans for a memorial include a reading of this screenplay, with actors like Daniel J. Travanti enlisted to play key roles. Swan had aspired to voice the narrator in this script.