Robert Ginty dies at 60; action-film star also directed for TV, led Irish theater center

After a long and varied career in Hollywood, Robert Ginty became artistic director of the Irish Theatre Arts Center, staging music, film and theater projects on the Irish experience at venues around the world.
(Los Angeles Times)

Robert Ginty, a versatile actor who starred in the 1980 film “The Exterminator” and built a varied career as a producer, director and actor in film, television and the stage, has died. He was 60.

Ginty died Monday at his home in Los Angeles, said Michael Einfeld, manager for Ginty’s son, James Francis Ginty. He had cancer.

Ginty had a recurring role as Lt. T.J. Wiley in “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” which aired on NBC from 1976 to ’78 and which he described to the New York Times in 1984 as dealing with “the innocents of World War II, a bunch of gung-ho young kid pilots.”

He had an extensive acting career in TV, including appearances in “The Paper Chase,” “Hawaiian Heat” and “Falcon Crest.”

Ginty, who appeared in such action movies as “Gold Raiders” (1983), “Warrior of the Lost World” (1983) and “Exterminator 2” (1984) made no apologies for playing those parts.

" ‘The Exterminator’ made $35 million so people like to talk about it and I don’t mind talking about it,” he told the New York Times. “But I can separate very clearly my politics from my acting. . . . I’ve played a very violent repertory of movies and what they’ve done for me is given me an economically viable career.”

Other film roles included “Coming Home” (1978), “Bound for Glory” (1976) and “The Alchemist” (1984). He wrote, directed and appeared in “The Bounty Hunter” (1989) and produced, directed and acted in “Vietnam, Texas” (1990).

Ginty directed episodes of such television shows as “Dream On,” “China Beach,” “Charmed” and “Early Edition.”

Robert Winthrop Ginty was born Nov. 14, 1948, in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Yale and the City College of New York and studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse.

He was a rock drummer who played with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin but was encouraged to try acting after his band appeared in a film.

Ginty told The Times in 1989 that his work in “Bound for Glory” and “Coming Home” for director Hal Ashby had a lasting impact.

“I learned how important it is to be very precise, to know exactly what you want,” he said. “As a director, my job is to entertain but I’m also looking for stories with substance.”

In 1994, Ginty became artistic director of the Irish Theatre Arts Center, using classroom space from a West Hollywood Catholic school to allow playwrights to hear their works read by actors in front of an audience.

“He was a true Irishman transplanted into modern society,” his son James Ginty said.

According to Ginty’s website,, the center’s goal is coproducing and sponsoring stage, music, and film projects dealing with the Irish experience. The center was based in Dublin’s Trinity College in 2001, Harvard in 2002, the American Academy in Rome in 2003 and Paris’ Irish Cultural Center in 2004. Ginty later directed a hip-hop production of “A Clockwork Orange” in Toronto.

Along with his son, Ginty is survived by his wife, Michelle. His two previous marriages ended in divorce.

Services will be private.