Terminator Actor Earl Boen Is Dead At 81

The Terminator franchise (which might be in store for another reboot) launched back in 1984, and aside from Arnold Schwarzenegger, only one other actor appeared in the first three Terminator movies. That honor belonged to Earl Boen, who played Dr. Peter Silberman in The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, though that role was just one among many he accumulated over a career that lasted more than 50 years. Unfortunately, it’s been announced that Boen has died at the age of 81.

According to a friend of Earl Boen and his family who spoke with Variety, the actor had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in fall 2022, and he passed away at his home in Hawaii on Thursday, January 5. Boen is survived by his wife Cathy, daughter Ruby and grandchildren Kimmy Abaricia and Kimo Harbin.

Born on August 8, 1941, Earl Boen began his acting career doing stage work from 1965 to 1976, and then he made the move to Hollywood. Prior to The Terminator’s release in 1984, he was guest-starring in classic shows like Wonder Woman, Lou Grant, The Jeffersons, The Dukes of Hazzard, M*A*S*H, Three’s Company and Fantasy Island. He also recurred on It’s a Living, Benson and Mama’s Family

On the film front though, it was his time as Dr. Peter Silberman for which he’s arguably best known. In The Terminator, Silberman was the criminal psychologist who was brought in to question Kyle Reese, and he didn’t believe the man’s claim that he was sent back in time from an apocalyptic future ignited by Judgement Day in 1997. While Silberman briefly passed Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 at the police station, he was gone before the antagonist laid waste to the building in an effort to kill Kyle and Sarah Conner.

Then in Terminator 2, Peter Silberman was seen heading the Pescadero State Hospital, where Sarah was living as an inmate. As with Kyle Reese, he didn’t believe her claims about Skynet and these robotic assassins, but later on in the movie, he witnessed both the T-1000 and benevolent T-800 in action, with the former coming to kill Sarah and the latter coming to her rescue with her son, John. Finally, in Terminator 3, Peter Silberman, now a post-trauma counselor, briefly spoke with Kate Brewster after her own encounter with a T-800 model, sharing with her what had happened to him over a decade earlier. 

Along with these three Terminator movie appearances, Earl Boen also made an uncredited appearance as Peter Silberman in the T2-3D: Battle Across Time attraction at Universal Stuidos. Archival footage of Boen as Silberman was included in 2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate, and Bruce Davison played the character in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season 1.

Outside of his time in the Terminator franchise, Earl Boen’s other notable live-action appearances included The Law & Harry McGraw, L.A. Law, Seinfeld, Family Matters, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps and The West Wing. He was also an accomplished voice actor, lending his talents to animated shows like the critically-acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Kim Possible and Justice League, as well numerous video games, including World of Warcraft installments. 

We here at CinemaBlend offer our condolences to Earl Boen’s family and friends in their time of mourning. He will be missed by both Terminator fans and anyone who was familiar with his body of work.

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