Linda Haynes, the actress best known for her performances in Rolling Thunder and Brubaker, has died. She was 75.
An obituary for Haynes, whose real name was Linda Lee Sylvander, announced that the actress was surrounded by close family when she died peacefully at her home in Summerville, S.C., on July 17. A cause of death was not disclosed.
Born in Miami, Haynes made her Hollywood debut as Doctor Anne Barton in the 1969 sci-fi film Latitude Zero alongside Joseph Cotten, Cesar Romero, and Richard Jaeckel. Over the next six years, she would star in the 1973 blaxploitation film Coffy, the gritty 1974 crime drama The Nickel Ride, and the 1975 thriller The Drowning Pool.
However, it was her role as resilient barmaid Linda Forchet in the 1977 psychological thriller Rolling Thunder that captivated theatergoers like Quentin Tarantino.
Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Linda Haynes
“The performance of the film for me is Linda Haynes as Linda Forchet!” Tarantino raved, per Haynes’ obituary. “She was in one of the sleepers for the first [Quentin Tarantino Film Festival], The Nickel Ride, she was in Pam Grier’s Coffy… She was the girl that reaches into Grier’s afro when she has the razors in there and, ‘Aaaahhhh.'”
He continued, “But Linda Forchet is my favorite female character in a Paul Schrader movie… She has that look that Ava Gardner got — you know, blousey — but it took Ava years to do it, and Linda Haynes just did it naturally. And I mean that in a good way.”
Haynes obtained her first and only leading role in the 1979 prison film Human Experiments. The following year, she starred as Carol in the Oscar-nominated 1980 film Brubaker opposite Robert Redford, Yaphet Kotto, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Alexander, before deciding to step away from the spotlight.
A member of the Actor’s Studio and the Screen Actors Guild, Haynes went on to work as a legal secretary in the years after her acting career. She moved to South Carolina to live with her son, Gregory Leif Sylvander, in 2019.
Haynes is survived by her son as well as her daughter-in-law, Courtney Lynn Sylvander; her two grandchildren, James Riley Sylvander and Amelia Grace Sylvander; her cats Bingo and Bluey; and her dogs Rex, Biggie, and Raya.