Tragical Death at 74: Ernie Lively, Prolific Actor and Blake Lively’s Father

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Last Man Standing actor and actress Blake Lively’s father Ernie Lively dies at 74 due to heart complications.

Legendary actor Ernie Lively, the father of Blake Lively, who played her on-screen dad in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and boasted an almost 50-year acting career, has died. He was 74. His 50-year acting career included memorable roles in Passenger 57, The Dukes of Hazzard, Turner & Hooch and he famously played the dad of his daughter Blake Lively’s character in both Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies.

The late actor’s family announced the cause of Lively’s death was cardiac complications in Los Angeles on Thursday last week. Lively was surrounded by his wife and all of his children at the time of his death and is survived by them.

Ernie Lively had a shining movie career, which included other notable films like Shocker (1989), Air America (1990), Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991), The Man in the Moon (1991), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) and Mulholland Falls (1996). He also made famous guest appearances on TV shows, including The X-Files, Seinfeld, Murder, She Wrote and The West Wing.

The fact that all of Lively’s children went on to become actors speaks volumes about the influence he was on their lives. Ernie was born on January 29, 1947, in Baltimore. He married talent manager Elaine Lively in 1979. He is father to Eric Lively, 39, Blake Lively, 33; and step-father to Lori Lively, 54; Jason Lively, 53, Robyn Lively, 49. All of his children followed in his footsteps. 

Blake Lively has also shared roles with her father in movies. In 2005, Ernie starred as Mr. Vreeland in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as the father of his real-life daughter Blake Lively’s character Bridget Vreeland. Ernie reprised his role and appeared alongside his daughter in the 2008 sequel The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. The power father-daughter duo also starred alongside each other in the 2006 slasher film Simon Says.

Before his acting career, Lively was reportedly an English professor. He also served as a lieutenant in Vietnam and returned to the country as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.

With a dazzling Hollywood career that spanned nearly five decades, Ernie decided to retire in Utah because of the outdoor life. However, health issues following a heart attack in 2003 prevented him from completely enjoying Utah, he later said to The Salt Lake Tribune in 2013.

In 2013, he also made a statement to People: “I moved to Utah because of the snow, but I haven’t been able to ski. I ‘literally’ didn’t have the heart to do it.” According to People, Lively had only half of a functioning heart and had trouble walking up a flight of stairs before he underwent surgery.

In November 2013, Ernie underwent a groundbreaking heart procedure at the University of Utah. As a result, Ernie became the first person ever to be treated with experimental retrograde gene therapy for the heart.

After the surgery, the actor told the publication that he hadn’t felt this good in years. Ernie also stated that he was looking forward to living the rest of his life instead of sitting around.

Ernie is survived by his wife Elaine and their children and nine grandchildren, his sister Judith, and three of his children’s spouses.

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