The Gruesome Prop From The Omen David Warner Joked About Losing In His Divorce

On July 25, 2022, as BBC News reports, British actor David Warner passed away at the age of 80, from a "cancer-related illness," as his family said in a statement. Throughout the lion's share of his career, Warner portrayed supporting characters, villains, and supporting characters who were villains. Further still, he rarely appeared in big-budget blockbusters, with few exceptions, one of which was 1976's "The Omen."

"The Omen" hit screens during a period in which supernatural thrillers were a staple of horror films; years earlier, Roman Polanski had solidified this subgenre as marketable and successful with the famed "Rosemary's Baby." Other high-water marks of the subgenre from this period include "The Amityville Horror" and, of course, "The Exorcist." In "The Omen," Warner portrayed a supporting character, though not necessarily a villain. And in the film, Warner's character, photographer Keith Jennings, meets one of the most gruesome ends ever documented on film (at least, for the time period in which the film was made).

David Warner in 'The Omen'

For those not familiar (and spoilers for a 50-year-old movie are coming), "The Omen" deals with a politician, Robert Thorn (played by Gregory Peck), who comes to suspect that his son, Damien, is actually the son of the Devil, per IMDB. As the young lad transitions out of infancy and into the age of about six or seven, mysterious occurrences begin surrounding the family, including multiple gruesome deaths. Thorn teams up with a photographer, Keith Jennings (David Warner), in order to try to get to the bottom of the mystery. Specifically, as film critic Roger Ebert wrote in his review at the time (via his website), Jennings' photos reveal how various people in Damien's orbit are going to meet their ends.

Jennings' own end is at once particularly gruesome as well as one of the more memorable deaths in horror movie history. When his investigation brings him to a construction site, a series of events unfolds, culminating with a pane of glass sliding off of a truck and slicing Jennings' head clean off. In an added bit of visual punch, Jennings' severed head bounces a few times. So gruesome was the scene, according to Horror News Network, that Warner –- who, it bears noting, was never in any danger in the scene, as it was all accomplished with quick cuts and practical effects -– refused to watch it.

What Became Of The Prop From That Scene?

David Warner was lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) in that the prop department at a major motion picture studio created a replica of his head, albeit for gruesome purposes. Regardless, such a prop would be a sought-after keepsake for any actor, and the evidence seems to suggest that Warner managed to wind up with that particular prop.

As Cheatsheet notes, officially, props belong to the movie studio that created them and for an actor to take one home without permission is an act of theft. Unofficially, actors pilfer them all of the time, whether through outright larceny or through directors looking the other way. Whether he got the prop replica of his own head through theft or because it was given to him -– if he ever really had it at all; he could have just been joking -– it seems that Warner lost it in the most prosaic way. As BBC News notes, when asked about the prop years later, Warner responded, "I lost it in the divorce."