Legendary Hollywood casting director Mike Fenton passed away last Wednesday at the age of 85. He served as the casting director on hundreds of films and TV Shows including Chinatown, American Graffiti, The Bad News Bears, The Goonies, E.T., Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc, Back to the Future, Chaplin, and Blade Runner. Fenton also co-founded the American Society of Casting Directors in 1982, which later became the Casting Society of America.
Fenton worked with Steven Spielberg on a multitude of projects, including his feature-length directorial debut, Sugarland Express. Spielberg was among the first to comment on Fenton’s passing.
“Working with Mike Fenton was like working in a candy store — he made casting a blast,” Spielberg said. “His fervent support of actors was the stuff of legend, and after landing a part, any actor’s smile was rarely as wide as Mike’s. He didn’t just support actors, he launched crusades. And he was a pretty good actor himself, as he would always read off-camera dialogue to create energy and mojo for the person reading for the part. Much like the actors for whom he advocated, Mike loved his role — and those around him loved him so much, and I will miss him dearly.”
The accomplished casting director had 11 career CSA Award nominations and two wins for miniseries. He was given the Hoyt Bowers Award by the CSA in 1989 for lifetime achievement, an award that honors his body of work, his “excellence in casting,” and “outstanding contributions to the casting profession.” CSA co-presidents Russell Boast and Rich Mento released a statement following the news of Fenton’s death.
“Casting Society of America is saddened about the death of co-founder Mike Fenton. His remarkable accomplishments and his incredible work in elevating the awareness and appreciation of the craft of casting defines his legacy in the entertainment industry. CSA extends its love and support to his cherished family and friends.”