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Bob Cowan, R.I.P.

Bob Cowan in Sins of the Fleshapoids

Filmmaker Bob Moricz has reported that legendary underground film actor Bob Cowan has passed away. While¬†the Underground Film Journal hasn’t completely confirmed the report, it appears that Cowan died on Tuesday, June 21, in his home in Toronto, Canada. He is survived by his wife Jane.

Cowan was a regular performer and collaborator with the filmmakers George and Mike Kuchar, and is most well-known as starring as the robot Xar in the classic film Sins of the Fleshapoids. (Pictured) But, more than just acting in the movie, Cowan also served as the film’s narrator and assembled its memorable music score.

In the ’60s and ’70s, Cowan was one of a few underground film acting “superstars,” along with performers such as Taylor Mead, Jack Smith, Gerard Malanga, Mario Montez and Donna Kerness.

Other Kuchar films Cowan appeared in were George’s Lust for Ecstasy and The Devil’s Cleavage; and Mike’s The Secret of Wendel Samson and The Craven Sluck.

Sins of the Fleshapoids, The Secret of Wendel Samson and The Craven Sluck were released by Other Cinema on a single DVD that is now out of print.

Cowan was last seen interviewed in the documentary It Came From Kuchar.


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  • Hi Mike,

    Thank you for posting the news about Bob Cowan.

    In addition to his appearances in the Kuchars’ films, Cowan was a filmmaker himself. His short film Rockflow is very good, and recommended to anyone interested in psychedelic cinema and 60s fashion.

    Cowan was also the original projectionist for Andy Warhol’s The Chelsea Girls.

    Andy Ditzler

  • Chris Cowan says:

    I am Bob Cowan’s daughter and I would like to make a slight correction to this article. He passed away on June 21st, 2011. Thanks.

    • Thank you for the correction. That was a bad typo on my part that I missed.

    • Mildred "Woo" St John says:

      Hi Chris. I visited with your father in the early 60s when I think he lived in Brooklyn Heights. He was a friend of my sister Connie Clarke deWolff.
      I have 4 of his works. 2 small collages & 2 wonderful Dali-like oils about 10″x14″ that I inherited from Connie when she died.
      The first things I ordered from Netflix were the Sins of the Fleshapoids & The Craven Sluck which were legendary to me but unseen. I couldn’t believe my luck & Netflix’s catalog.
      I’ve been meaning to contact you for awhile, but kept putting it off.
      Meeting Bob was a highlight of my visit to New York so many years ago. Having some of his work to enjoy has meant a lot to me.
      I’m sorry for your loss. Woo St John

  • Mark says:

    My condolences to his family. I knew Bob from the Filmmakers Cinematheque where he and Jerry Hiler alternated as projectionists in the mid-60s. It was in the old Werlitzer building on 42nd Street and 6th Avenue. The entrance was on the 41st Street side. I think Bob was living in Brooklyn Heights at the time and I lived in Cobble Hill. It was quite an interesting time. I was 16 and worked as the doorman and ticket-taker.