I've been trying to cut down on celebrity death posts lately, lest my blog turn into the Obituary Page. I'm making an exception for this one though, since I've not seen a lot of news about it around the internet.
You may not know his name, but if you're a fan of offbeat cinema, you'll likely recognize that face. Z'Dar was largely unknown to the general public, but was a favorite among cult movie fans, appearing in over one hundred films and TV shows, usually playing a villain.
Z'Dar began experiencing chest pains while attending the Pensacon comic book convention in Pensacola, Florida. He was rushed to the hospital where he went into cardiac arrest and died.
He was probably best known for his role as Matt Cordell, the murderous supernatural police officer in the Maniac Cop film trilogy.
Born Robert Zdarsky in Chicago, he studied acting at Arizona State, where he also played football. Before his film career Z'Dar worked as a police officer (!), a singer/guitarist in the band Nova Express, a jingle writer, and amazingly, a Chippendale dancer.
His massive jaw was the result of a genetic disorder called cherubism, which causes abnormal growth in the lower portion of the face.
I met Mr. Z'Dar a couple of times over the years. The first time was at WizardWorld in Chicago, circa 1999. That me being strangled by him above, back when my hair was all one color. He was very friendly and accommodating to his fans, which is always a plus.
I met him again at a HorrorHound convention in Indianapolis, probably around 2010. He was surrounded by fans and fellow celebrities alike, laughing and telling stories and having a grand old time. Part of that may have been due to the "special ingredient" in his drink. Hey, whatever gets you through the show!
Z'Dar was still active in the film industry, and was shooting Samurai Cop 2 at the time of his death.