« Britney Spears' Ex, Jason Alexander, Reflects on 55-Hour Marriage | Main | John Travolta Donates Gulfstream Jet to Aviation Hall of Fame »

Actor Ben Gazzara Dies at Age 81

Ander Gillenea/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Actor Ben Gazzara, whose long career spanned lead roles in the original 1955 Broadway productions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Hatful of Rain, television, and dozens of film roles, including in 1959′s Anatomy of a Murder and 1998′s The Big Lebowski, has died, according to reports. He was 81.

Gazzara died in Manhattan of pancreatic cancer, the New York Times reported.

Gazzara told Charlie Rose in 1998 that he went from being mainly a stage actor who often would turn up his nose at film roles before, much later, becoming a ubiquitous character actor who “turned very little down, almost nothing.”

Gazzara’s career took off in the 1950s when he was appearing regularly on the New York stage and was a member of Manhattan’s famous Actors Studio, known for producing method actors including Marlon Brando.

After early film success in major roles, Gazzara’s career cooled, though he starred in the TV series, Run for Your Life, from 1965 to 1968.

It was during his stint on Run for Your Life that Gazzara met the cult icon John Cassavetes, who he later described to an unbilled interviewer in a YouTube video as “a poet of film.”

In the YouTube interview, shot at a Cassavetes festival, Gazzara said he soon found himself rehearsing, refining and improvising a script with Cassavetes and the actor Peter Falk that would eventually become the 1970 film, Husbands.

“It’s the first time I experienced a piece of work that I wanted to go on and on and on because it got to the point where the relationships had become like blood. I couldn’t leave that,” Gazzara said.

Gazzara continued to work with Cassavetes, including in the films, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Opening Night.

Gazzara’s latter-day work included the films Road House, Happiness, The Spanish Prisoner, Summer of Sam, and Buffalo 66.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>

ABC News Radio