August 15, 2022


Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Mike Fenton dies: ‘E.T.’ casting director was 85

Casting director Mike Fenton, who in a more than 40-year-career worked on projects ranging from “The Andy Griffith Show” to movies including “The Godfather Part II” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” died Wednesday at age 85.

The news was confirmed by Fenton’s son, Mick, who told the Hollywood Reporter that Fenton died at his home in Los Angeles from natural causes. The Casting Society of America also posted the news of its co-founder’s death to its Facebook page.

Steven Spielberg worked with Fenton on numerous projects dating back to Spielberg’s first theatrical feature, “The Sugarland Express” in 1974. In a statement, Spielberg said, “Working with Mike Fenton was like working in a candy store — he made casting a blast. 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 support actors, he launched crusades.”

Spielberg added, “Much like the actors for whom he advocated, Mike loved his role — and those around him loved him so much.”

With hundreds of credits, Fenton worked on dozens and dozens of films that would come to be regarded as contemporary classics, including “Chinatown,” “American Graffiti,” “Blade Runner,” “Breaking Away,” “Norma Rae,” “Footloose,” “A Christmas Story,” “The Bad News Bears,” “Shampoo,” “Young Frankenstein,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Slap Shot,” “Poltergeist,” “Aliens,” “Beaches,” “Total Recall,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and two sequels, and the “Back to the Future” trilogy.

In 1982, Fenton co-founded the American Society of Casting Directors, which would become the Casting Society of America. He was an 11-time nominee for the CSA’s Artios awards, winning twice. In 1989 he received the CSA’s Hoyt Bowers Award for outstanding contributions to the casting profession.