Born in Boston of Irish ancestry and raised in Dallas, Jack Nance traveled throughout the country doing children's theater. For eight years he performed with the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Later he became involved with avant-garde theater. He first met David Lynch in the early 1970s in Philadelphia while he was performing in a local theater, and Lynch decided to cast him as the lead in Eraserhead (1977). Nance relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1980s, where he appeared in unusual and widely praised films that were not always considered mainstream Hollywood. He has appeared in almost every movie by Lynch, including the TV series "Twin Peaks" (1990), usually playing secondary characters or quirky supporting parts. Nance died suddenly and unexpectedly in December 1996 from an apparent internal head injury the morning after getting into a physical brawl at a donut shop with some rowdy patrons.