80s Heartthrob Jan-Michael Vincent Reveals Leg Amputation Following Years of Drug And Alcohol Problems

Ben Arnold
Contributor

Jan-Michael Vincent, the 80s pin-up who made his name in iconic surf movie ‘Big Wednesday’, has revealed that he’s had to have most of his right leg amputated and now he’s struggling to keep a roof over his head.

Vincent, now 70, was once the highest-paid actor on TV, earning $200,000 per episode playing pilot Stringfellow Hawke in the hit series ‘Airwolf’.

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But following decades battling alcohol and drug problems, which saw his acting career slowly dry up, he is now a shadow of his former self.

Beset by misfortune, Vincent’s health problems began in 1996 following a car crash in which he broke three vertebrae in his neck and permanently damaged his vocal chords, leaving him with a rasping voice.

Prior to that, he had been arrested multiple times, often for brawling – his second wife Joanne Robinson alleged spousal abuse and took out a restraining order – and drunk driving, for which he was charged after his 1996 accident.

He had a second car crash in 2008, but it was in 2012 that he contracted a blood infection which nearly cost him his life.

Vincent had the lower half of his leg amputated, but just one month later found the infection had returned, meaning he had to have more of his leg removed.

“An infection in my leg got steadily worse,” he told The National Enquirer. “I felt like I was beaten with a whip.”

Since the amputation he uses a prosthetic leg and often a wheelchair or walking frame to get around.

Speaking the US magazine, Vincent and third wife Anna explained that they are struggling to keep the roof over their heads where they live in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and as well as health problems, are also facing a $70,000 back tax bill.

“I’m praying for a solution,” Anna told the magazine.

Vincent added that among his great wishes was to reconnect with his estranged daughter Amber, and that he would also love to get out into the ocean again on a bodyboard.

He was an avid surfer in the 70s and 80s, scoring the lead role in John Milius’s cult hit ‘Big Wednesday’ in 1978 with Gary Busey and William Katt.

Prior to that he’d starred in TV series like ‘Dragnet’, ‘Lassie’, and ‘Gunsmoke’.

After hitting his stride in ‘Big Wednesday’, he landed the lead role in ‘Airwolf’, playing the hi-tech helicopter pilot Stringfellow Hawke opposite screen legend Ernest Borgnine from 1984 to 1987.

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Image credits: Splash/Rex Features