The star played the father of Macaulay Culkin's character in the hit 1990 film and also went on to star in the 1992 sequel Home Alone 2: Lost In New York.
His death was confirmed to Associated Press by the Santa Clara Medical Examiner's office in California and celebrity website TMZ reported he died at a hotel in Palo Alto, where he had apparently been staying while recovering from recent minor back surgery.
Starting his career on the stage, Heard starred in a series of plays and television productions in the 1970s before landing the lead role in 1979 romantic comedy Head Over Heels.
His big screen work continued steadily throughout the following decades, seeing him feature in Tom Hanks comedy Big in 1988 and star opposite Bette Midler in the tearjerker classic Beaches in the same year.
Most recognised for his role as Peter McCallister in the Home Alone movies, he co-starred with Catherine O'Hara as the parents of Culkin's character in the child star's break-out films.
Other notable credits include In The Line Of Fire, The Pelican Brief (both 1993) and Sharknado (2013), and he had a number of projects waiting to be released.
Heard's TV work includes an Emmy-nominated role in The Sopranos as Vin Makazian and episodes of Battlestar Galactica, CSI:Miami and Prison Break.
The actor had three children, including a son with ex Melissa Leo.