Heard was found dead in a hotel in Palo Alto, California, according to TMZ, quoting family sources.
The star was reportedly discovered by housekeeping and was pronounced dead on the scene.
Heard reportedly had a “minor back surgery” last week and was staying in a California hotel during his recovery, the site reported. However, his cause of death was still unclear.
Famous friends such as Cher, Elijah Wood, Jeff Bridges and James Woods took to social media to express their condolences.
“Goodbye John, You were such a beautiful, talented, funny, crazy boy,” wrote Cher.
Heard’s Big co-star Elizabeth Perkins said: “Rest peacefully, Mr. John Heard. You were the perfect foil, perfectly sly & a perfect gentleman. Many prayers to his family and children.”
Heard’s Cutter’s Way co-star Jeff Bridges tweeted: “John Heard - what a wonderful actor. We were in the movie Cutter’s Way together & I got to experience his artistry and dedication first hand.”
Heard played Peter McCallister — Macaulay Culkin’s character’s father — in the Home Alone movies.
He also starred in Big with Tom Hanks, Beaches opposite Bette Midler, The Sopranos and Battlestar Galactica, among other roles on the big and small screens.
The Palo Alto Police Department confirmed to People that a man fitting Heard’s description was found dead at a local hotel.
“I can confirm that our officers responded with the Fire Department to a hotel in our city yesterday on a report of a person in need of medical aid,” the police spokesman said. “The person was determined to be deceased. While still under investigation, the death is not considered suspicious at this time.”
Heard’s most popular role perhaps came in 1990s Home Alone, where he stared as Peter McCallister — the dad to Macaulay Culkin‘s Kevin. Heard would reprise the role in the 1992 sequel.
The Sopranos would give Heard another recognisable role, as Vin Makazian — a New Jersey police detective who fed information to Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). He appeared in five episodes in the hit HBO series.
Heard was married three times including one to Superman actress Margot Kidder. He is survived by three children including one with former partner Academy Award-winning actress Melissa Leo.
He was arrested in 1991 and charged with third-degree assault for allegedly slapping Leo. In 1997 he was found guilty of trespassing Leo’s Baltimore home.
Heard and his wife Sharon have two children together, son Max and a daughter named Annika.
When asked about his career, he admitted he lost out on roles because of his behaviour.
He said: “I guess I went from being a young leading man to being just kind of a hack actor. … When I came to Hollywood, I was pretty much a stage actor, and I expected everybody to be quiet. And they weren’t.
“They were doing their job, and you’re expected to do your job, and you’re sort of this ongoing coexistence. I was a little bit of an arrogant jerk.
“Now, it’s a little bit more like, ‘Okay, I realise you have to pat me down with powder every three seconds.’ And I stand there, and I’m a little more tolerant …. I think I had my time.
“I dropped the ball, as my father would say. I think I could have done more with my career than I did, and I sort of got sidetracked. But that’s OK, that’s all right, that’s the way it is. No sour grapes. I mean, I don’t have any regrets. Except that I could have played some bigger parts.”