Born Albert Strobel in Seattle, Washington, in 1939, Strobel lost his left arm in a car accident at 17. Later, when he moved to Eugene, Oregon, he became involved in theatrical work at the University of Oregon. He also built camera towers and shot footage for the Grateful Dead’s August 1972 concert in Veneta that would wind up in their legendary “Sunshine Daydream” music documentary (via Consequence).
His film debut came in 1986 in the supernatural horror film “Shadow Play,” which starred Dee Wallace and Cloris Leachman. Three years later, he would land the role that he is most remembered for when he was cast in David Lynch and Mark Frost’s iconic surreal mystery series “Twin Peaks.” “Twin Peaks” is recognized today as the project in which Lynch solidified his signature mixture of uncanny and melodrama. The inclusion of the one-armed man was a key part of establishing both the aesthetic of the show and its story.
Possessed by the demon known as “Mike,” Philip Gerard was initially an accomplice of “Bob” (Frank Silva) before the latter demon possessed Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) and killed his daughter Laura (Sheryl Lee). Gerard’s religious epiphany led him to sever his own arm to rid himself of a tattoo that allowed him to be demonically possessed, and he attempts to provide whatever assistance he can to Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) to stop Bob. Though the tattoo in the show is supposed to have read “fire walk with me,” Strobel also had a tattoo on the arm lost in the car accident, though that one simply read “mom.”