Kenneth Jones, the character actor perhaps best known for his role in the 1979 horror classic Phantasm has died. Phantasm director Don Coscarelli took to Twitter on Friday evening (via Deadline) to share the sad news, though no cause of death and no age for Jones was given. Coscarelli described Jones, who played the "Caretaker" in the film, as a "warm, talented, and a devoted family man" in his tribute to the actor.
"I'm sorry to report that Ken Jones who starred in the most impactful scene in Phantasm has passed away today. Everyone who came in contact with Ken loved him," Coscarelli wrote. "He was warm, talented, and a devoted family man. The fans loved meeting him in recent years at the conventions with his loving daughter Jennifer and grandson EJ by his side. Rest in peace, my friend."
I'm sorry to report that Ken Jones who starred in the most impactful scene in Phantasm has passed away today. Everyone who came in contact with Ken loved him. He was warm, talented, and a devoted family man. pic.twitter.com/8wTVfG018i— Don Coscarelli (@DonCoscarelli) November 7, 2020
The first film in the Phantasm franchise, the film introduces the Tall Man, an evil, supernatural undertaker who turns the Earth's dead to zombies that he sends to his home planet to use as slaves. A young boy, Mike, discovers this and enlists his older brother Jody and friend Reggie to deal with the threat.
While Jones' Caretaker didn't play a major role in the film, his on-screen death is one of the horror genre's more memorable kills. In the scene, the Tall Man's silver sphere drills through the Caretaker's head, prompting a torrent of blood to shoot out gruesomely. The film initially received mixed reviews but has since gone on to become a cult classic, spawning four sequels including 2016's Phantasm: Ravager. The film also regularly pops up on "best of" lists for horror films and has had a lasting influence. The name of Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was inspired by the silver sphere that took out the Caretaker in Phantasm.
"Phasma I named because of the amazing chrome design that came from Michael Kaplan's wardrobe team. It reminded me of the ball in Phantasm, and I just thought, Phasma sounds really cool," J.J. Abrams said in 2015.
In addition to his role in Phantasm, Jones also appeared in Coscarelli's 1976 comedy-drama film Kenny & Company as well as 1993's Hidden Fears, which starred Meg Foster and Frederic Forrest.