Friday, April 19, 2024

Linda Manz Dies at 58, Her Knowing Narration at Age 15 Propelled “Days of Heaven,” One of the Best Movies of All Time


There was a time when a Terrence Malick movie was a big deal. That time was 1978, and the movie was “Days of Heaven.” Gorgeous, impressionistic, utterly unlike anything anyone had seen before, it remains a classic that starred Brooke Adams, Richard Gere, and Sam Shepard in a Gothic romantic triangle set in the Texas panhandle that seemed like a galaxy far, far, away.

What made the movie come together was the narration, spoken by 15 year old Linda Manz, whose accent– it sounded like she was from Brooklyn or the tough side of Chicago, cut through the dreamy, otherworldly kind of seance that Malick affected in the film. Manz was also on screen as Gere’s worldweary sister, dragged along by him on this misadventure. (In reality, Manz was from Manhattan.)

Manz, sadly, has died at 58. Her son, Michael Guthrie, has created a Go Fund Me page to offset burial expenses. He wrote: “It is with a broken and heavy heart that we ask you both as friends and family for your help with Linda Guthrie’s final expenses. Linda passed away August 14 after battling with lung cancer and pneumonia. she leaves behind a husband two son’s and three grand children who all love and miss her tremendously, Linda was a loving wife, a caring mom, a wonderful grandma and a great friend who was loved by many.
what ever you can do to help with the funeral will be greatly appreciated. Thank you and God bless.
rest in peace we love you MOM.”

There are already nice donations from Tony Kushner, Bradley Whitford, my friend producer Rachael Horovitz, and many others including yours truly. (Linda’s voice in that movie will haunt me– in a good way– for the rest of my life.) They’re still short of their $10,000 goal, but I’m sure Malick, Gere, and Adams will give, even if anonymously.

Manz was married to cameraman Bobby Guthrie and had three sons. She appeared in a handful of movies after “Days of Heaven,” including “Out of the Blue,” written and directed by the late great Dennis Hopper. She also had an uncredited role in Frank Pierson’s “King of the Gypsies.” I remember when we saw her in it, everyone was so excited to see this ethereal, magical presence from “Days of Heaven” in a second movie.

God bless her, she will be missed but always remembered.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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