Art LaFleur, a character actor who often appeared as a cop, coach or tough guy and played Babe Ruth in “The Sandlot,” has died after a battle with Parkinson’s. He was 78.
His wife Shelley confirmed his death on Facebook, writing, “This guy... After a 10 year battle with A-typical Parkinson’s, Art LaFleur, the love of my life passed away.”
LaFleur was also known for “The Santa Clause 2” and “The Santa Clause 3,” in which he played the Tooth Fairy, and as Chuck Gandil, the ghost White Sox first baseman in “Field of Dreams.”
“He was a generous and selfless man which carried over to his acting but more importantly it was who he was for his family and friends. Every location or set we visited him on, the cast and crew would introduce themselves and tell Molly, Joe, and me how Art spoke of us with such pride and love. I was so very lucky to have had a 43 year relationship with a man who cherished me and who I adored. Art was larger than life and meant the world to us,” Shelley LaFleur continued.
Born in Gary, Ind., LaFleur started out as a salesman before moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting. He racked up over 100 credits in shows including “Charlie’s Angels,” “Lou Grant,” “Soap,” “Benson,” “Hill St. Blues” and “The A-Team.”
Throughout the 1990s he continued to appear on television on shows including “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” “Matlock” and “E.R.” He had a recurring role on the late ‘90s series “Hyperion Bay” as the town supervisor.
His other film roles included Sgt. Rutledge in “Beethoven’s 4th,” the coach in “A Cinderella Story” and “A Snow Globe Christmas.” One of his last appearances was in “Key and Peele” in 2015.