Cult actor Robert Z’Dar dies in Pensacola

B9316815151Z.1_20150331194912_000_GC6ACNNTF.1-0From Actor Robert Z’Dar, the massive man with the gigantic chin best known for the cult film series “Maniac Cop,” died Monday night in Pensacola after being hospitalized when he came to town to appear at Pensacon, according to his long-time manager and friend Jim Decker.

Born Robert J. Zdarsky, the 6-foot-2 actor was featured in more than 121 films, including cult classics like the first three “Maniac Cop” films, “Soultaker,” “The Final Sanction” and “Samurai Cop” (the sequel to which Z’Dar had been set to join immediately after Pensacon). He also enjoyed roles in mainstream hits such as “Tango & Cash” and TV roles on “Growing Pains” and the 1990 series “The Flash.”

Instantly recognizable for his large face and jutting jaw, his fanbase grew when two of his films, “Soultaker” and “Future War,” were lampooned on “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” A staple on the convention scene, he appeared at both of Pensacon’s shows.

Decker said Z’Dar was hospitalized after suffering chest pains during Pensacon, and was on the mend before going into cardiac arrest Monday night.

“We talked every day,” Decker said. “We’ve been together through thick and thin. He was the first actor I took on in my career as an agent. We spent many weekends on the road together and a lot of time enjoying each other’s company. I miss him dearly.”

Decker said Z’Dar continued to be in demand as an actor and he continued to review scripts up until the last moments of his life. He’d been looking forward to his role in “Samurai Cop 2” and was eager to get back to work.

Decker mentioned that prior to his acting career, Z’Dar played football for Arizona State University, was in a band called Nova Express and spent time as a Chippendale’s dancer.

Pensacon Chairman Mike Ensley said he and other representatives of Pensacon have been keeping tabs on Z’Dar’s condition since the convention, and that he appeared to be improving before his heart gave out.

“Everyone at Pensacon is very saddened,” Ensley said. “But we are glad he was here and that he didn’t pass away alone.”

Decker said that Z’Dar, who was 64, is survived by a brother, Billy Zdarsky, and a nephew, Matthew. He said those who would like to send condolences could do so through his email,

Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.