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Jan-Michael Vincent, the actor best known for playing Stringfellow Hawke in “Airwolf,” died on February 10 at the age of 73. TMZ was the first to report on Vincent’s tragic passing on March 8. Vincent’s cause-of-death is listed as cardiac arrest. The TMZ report says that Vincent passed away in North Carolina.
The death certificate, published by TMZ, says that no autopsy was performed and that Vincent has been cremated.
Vincent will be forever remembered for his two-year run with the CBS hit, “Airwolf.” During his time on the show, Vincent was pulling in $200,000 per episode.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Vincent Had His Right Leg Amputated in 2012
In 2012, Vincent suffered a severe health crisis when his leg had to be amputated. Vincent told the National Enquirer in October 2014 that the amputation was brought about through complications caused by peripheral artery disease.
Vincent told the tabloid, “An infection in my leg got steadily worse. I felt like I was beaten with a whip, one thing after another.” Even after the initial amputation, Vincent had to spend a month in a recovery unit of the hospital, after which a further infection meant had to have more of his leg removed. In his later years, Vincent used a prosthetic leg and a wheelchair to get around. Vincent credited his third wife, Anna, with helping him through his health crisis. Vincent added, “I look at this now and think I have nothing to be upset about when I think about what our U.S. military go through. They’re the real heroes.”
2. Vincent Said He Would Rather Be Remembered as a Surfer Than an Actor
Vincent’s other memorable roles included the 1978 movie, “Hooper,” with Burt Reynolds and the 1981 movie, “Defiance.” Vincent said in a 2014 interview with Radar Online that he would rather be remembered for his surfing abilities rather than his acting. Vincent says, “If I was going to brag I would brag about that.” Vincent showed off his surfing skills in the iconic 1980s movie, “Big Wednesday.”
Vincent was a native of Denver but grew up in Hanford, California, just outside of Fresno. Vincent was a graduate of Hanford High School, according to the Hanford Sentinel.
3. Vincent Has Been Open About His Struggles With Addiction in the Past
GettyVincent pictured following a 2000 arrest.
In his Radar Online interview, Vincent said that he was an alcoholic but did not say for how long he had been sober. Vincent rather said, “I’m here, and I’m talking to you… I’m me. I got my personality. I don’t behave like an alcoholic. That’s what I think about. I just like to be where I am.” Vincent then mentioned that he had a daughter that he hadn’t seen in a long time.
A 2014 Yahoo News feature saw Vincent detail his problems, which began in 1996 after a car accident which saw him suffer permanent damage to his vocal cords as well as broken vertebrae. After the accident, Vincent was charged with drunk-driving. Vincent would suffer another car crash in 2008.
In May 2017, the National Enquirer reported that Vincent had been present at a convention when an autograph seeker said, “He can barely hold a pen to sign his name. His voice is totally shot, too, and he’s gone blind in one eye!”
4. His Second-Wife, Joanne Robinson, Took Out a Restraining Order Against Him
Vincent had been accused in the ’90s of physically attacking his second wife, Joanne Robinson, which led to her filing a restraining order against him. Joanne tragically passed away in December 2017. In a separate incident, Vincent was accused of kicking his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach.
During the National Enquirer interview surrounding his leg amputation, Vincent’s third wife, Anna, said that the couple was struggling financially as the actor owed $70,000 to the IRS. At the time, Anna said that the family was fighting to hold on to their home in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Anna said, “I’m praying for a solution.”
5. American Tennis Pro Jan-Michael Gambill Was Named After Vincent
Jan-Michael GambillJan-Michael Gambill pictured in 2009.
U.S. tennis pro Jan-Michael Gambill is named for Vincent. Gambill, a native of Spokane, Washington, was born in 1977, according to a Sarasota Herald-Tribune feature. In 2000, People Magazine also reported on the naming, writing, “Gambill’s mother, Diane, 47, who named him after 1970s heartthrob actor Jan-Michael Vincent.” A separate blog posting on Gambill said that naming the tennis star after Vincent “seemed like a good idea at the time!”