Paul D'Amato: actor and star of The Deer Hunter and Slap Shot dies aged 76 after rare brain disease battle

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D'Amato had been diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy before his death on Monday

Hollywood actor Paul D'Amato, who started in Oscar-winning class The Deer Hunter and in the cult favourite Slap Shot, has died at the age of 76.

D'Amato, from Worcester, Massachusetts, was known to audiences for his turn as antagonist Tim "Dr Hook" McCracken in the hockey comedy Slap Shot in 1977. The film became a cult hit, with fans still celebrating his performance to this day.

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He also starred in The Deer Hunter as a Vietnam veteran alongside heavyweight names such as Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken. The film won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1979.

His death was confirmed by his fiancée Marina Re, who told the Hollywood Reporter that he had succumbed to a rare brain disease. D'Amato had been diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy four years before his death, with Ms Re adding: “He was the most wonderful, sweetest guy, he fought so hard against this horrendous disease."

Tributes from his former castmates and colleagues have poured in. Slap Shot co-star Steve Carlson said on X (formerly Twitter): "RIP Paul D'Amato. Sending heart felt condolences to Family and fellow friends, actors #ripdrhook"

D'Amato also starred in Heaven's Gate, and Suspect alongside Cher and Dennis Quaid. He is said to have been inspiration for X-Men writer and artist John Byrne for the look of Wolverine in the Marvel Comics series, with Byrne drawing inspiration from his look in Slap Shot.

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