Writing under various names, including David Hill, Hess began penning songs for Shalimar Music in the late 1950s. Presley recorded his songs “I Got Stung” and “Make Me Know You’re Mine,” and the Boone-recorded “Speedy Gonzalez” hit the top 10 in 1962.
Hess’ first film credit came on Wes Craven’s pioneering 1972 slasher pic “The Last House on the Left.” He was the composer on the film — and won the part of the repulsive lead villain in the creepy story of rape and revenge after his sister’s actor boyfriend backed out. (Garret Dillahunt played the part far less disturbingly in the 2009 remake.)
Hess gave similarly unsettling performances in 1977’s “The Naked Prey” (aka “Hitch-hike”) and Ruggero Deodato’s “House on the Edge of the Park” (1980). He also played a villain in Craven’s more campy 1982 pic “Swamp Thing.”
The actor also made appearances on television, guesting on the likes of “Baretta” and “Knight Rider” and appearing in telepic “21 Hours at Munich” as one of the Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian terrorists. He most recently appeared on TV in a 2010 episode of “Royal Pains.”
Hess was set to appear in a number of films that will see release in the next year or so: “The House That Wept Blood,” “The House on the Edge of the Park Part II,” “Manson Rising” and “The Beautiful Outsiders.”
He also produced three documentaries: “Niki de Saint Phalle,” about the painter and sculptor; “The Green Monster,” about Art Arfons; and 2010 short “Steel Drums, Not Guns.”
David Alexander Hess was born in New York City to a mother who was an opera singer.
He is survived by his wife, Regina Mardek; three sons and a daughter; a brother; and two sisters.