R.I.P Art LaFleur, actor in baseball classics ‘The Sandlot’ and ‘Field of Dreams’
Born in Gary, Indiana in 1943, Art LaFleur’s Hollywood career wouldn’t come to fruition for over 30 years. He worked as a salesman among other things before moving to California to try and make it in show business. In all, he had more than 150 movie and TV credits over a 40-year career. He was 78 when he passed.
LaFleur’s very first screen role came as Ivan the Russian spy in the 1978 TV movie Return to Gilligan’s Island. He soon became a go-to TV character actor appearing in Charlie’s Angels, Lou Grant and M*A*S*H as a Military Police officer in the memorable episode “Father’s Day.”
His first feature film role was a small part in the Tony Danza-Michelle Pfeiffer car flick The Hollywood Knights.
LaFleur acted consistently on TV throughout the 1980s, appearing in Soap, The Incredible Hulk, Benson, The A-Team and Hill Street Blues. He also won roles in many movies like Trancers, the Sylvester Stallone film Cobra and the 1988 remake of The Blob. One of his most famous roles came at the end of the decade when he played the ghost of White Sox first baseman Chick Gandil in Field of Dreams.
Four years later, LaFleur played another athlete apparition when he donned the famous Yankees pinstripes as a pep-talking Babe Ruth who inspired the kids in The Sandlot with the line “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”
LaFleur appeared in many Nineties shows like Home Improvement, Tales from the Crypt, Matlock, Baywatch and ER. He continued his character work throughout the 2000s in everything from Malcolm in the Middle to House.
He also appeared in movie sequels like Beethoven’s 4th and as the Tooth Fairy in The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause.
Art’s wife, Shelley, posted a loving tribute on Facebook remembering her husband as “a generous and selfless man which carried over to his acting but more importantly it was who he was for his family and friends. Every location or set we visited him on, the cast and crew would introduce themselves and tell Molly, Joe, and me how Art spoke of us with such pride and love. I was so very lucky to have had a 43-year relationship with a man who cherished me and who I adored. Art was larger than life and meant the world to us.”