Santa Barbara actor, and first husband of Robin Wright, Dane Witherspoon passed away on Saturday morning at the age of 56.
Born in Texas, Witherspoon was the youngest student ever accepted by the American Conservatory Theater (ACT) in San Francisco, California. He received his degree in 1980 and went to Hollywood where he made his debut as Joe Perkins on the NBC soap opera Santa Barbara in 1984. However, his time on the popular daytime drama was cut short when producers decided he wasn’t right for the role and replaced him three months later.
In a 1985 interview, Witherspoon said, “From the day the show started I worked 16 hours a day almost every day. I was exhausted all the time. I went to Mexico for six months to recuperate. I had to mend myself.”
Witherspoon also appeared on Capitol, another soap opera, from 1985-86.
He met his first wife, House of Cards actress Robin Wright, at Santa Barbara auditions and the two were married in 1986. They divorced in 1988 after which he married Trading Places actress Tracy Shaffer. Witherspoon and Shaffer divorced in 2011. The former couple have two sons together.
Though he briefly appeared on shows like The Waltons and Eight is Enough, Witherspoon retired from acting soon after he left Capitol (which was canceled in 1987) and lived in Denver, Colorado, where he passed away three days ago.
The cause of Witherspoon’s death has not been released, but fans and fellow actors are still mourning his passing.
A Martinez, who starred on Santa Barbara with Witherspoon in 1984, announced his death on Facebook.
“Dane was a most compelling man, and it must have been very hard on him to drift away from the path he first imagined,” Martinez said. “We’d do well to hold his kin in our thoughts, and imagine them finding a way to make the most of the lessons of his life.”
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