The Tragic Story Of ‘Fletch’ Actor Robert Sorrells, Who Died In Prison In 2019


Fletch lives! The 1985 comedy classic is getting a reboot this fall. One of the original cast members died tragically in 2019. Let’s learn his story.

An Interesting Cast

The original famously starred Chevy Chase as reporter Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher. The role is one of the most popular in Chase’s career. Fletch also featured George Wendt at the height of his Cheers fame and a cameo from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Geena Davis is also among the cast in just her second film role ever hot off the success of Tootsie.

(L-R): Chevy Chase, Robert Sorrells, and a female actor sit on a porch in the movie "Fletch"
Chase and Sorrells in a famous scene from the film. (Universal Pictures)

Confess Fletch, the reboot of Fletch is finally coming out after decades of development hell. Jon Hamm is taking over for Chase, and the film will also star Twin Peaks star Kyle MacLachlan and comedian Roy Wood Jr. It’s coming out on September 16.

Character actor Robert Sorrells had a small but memorable role as Marvin Stanwyk, an old man whom Fletch interviews while in disguise as Harry Truman. In 1985, Sorrells was 55 and had amassed a filmography primarily filled with westerns and television roles. He was on a few episodes of Gunsmoke and Bonanza. You may also remember him as Casey from the Twilight Zone episode “The Mighty Casey.”

The Arrest of Robert Sorrells

On July 24, 2004, a 74-year-old Sorrells was retired when a simple trip to a bar ended up sealing his fate. The whole tale of his final night as a free man would not have been out of place on a show like Bonanza. Sorrells was asked to leave the Regency Lounge in Los Angeles for belligerence. Arthur DeLong escorted Sorrells out, physically restraining him in the process. Sorrells let his anger at the situation get the best of him and the night took a deadly turn.

RELATED: The Tragic Short Life Of Eddie Murphy’s Brother Charlie

He went home to a low-income senior citizens complex in Simi Valley, California to retrieve his gun. Sorrells returned to the bar and shot DeLong in the back. He shot DeLong again on the barroom floor, then fired at another patron, Edward Sanchez. The two had not interacted until that moment. Sanchez survived getting shot in the face and back. 

He Got Caught

Sorrells attempted to flee the scene in his Volkswagon, but the cops quickly apprehended him. He was charged with premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder. Sorrells attempted to plea not guilty by reason of insanity, but he retracted it in lieu of a guilty plea. For his crimes, Sorrells received an indeterminate life sentence of 32 to life. He would die in 2019 at 88 years old, having served 15 years of his sentence.

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