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US actor Ben Gazzara dead at 81

2012-02-04 12:11
Ben Gazzara
New York - US actor Ben Gazzara, who enjoyed a long and successful career on Broadway and in Hollywood, died of pancreatic cancer on Friday in Manhattan, his attorney said. He was 81.

The lawyer told reporters that the actor died at a Manhattan hospital.

During his 60-year Hollywood career, the actor appeared in more than 100 films and TV movies, including Husbands, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Opening Night.

He won an Emmy Award for his supporting role in the 2002 HBO drama Hysterical Blindness.

He also received an Emmy nomination for the 1985 TV movie An Early Frost, in which he played a middle-age husband who learns that his son is gay and dying of Aids.

Gazzara, who starred in films, television and on the stage, played Brick in the original Broadway version of Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, originating a tough-guy persona that he would cultivate on the big screen.

In his later years he worked with the Coen brothers in The Big Lebowski, in 1998, in the television series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and more recently in many movies made for television.

Born into a family of Sicilian immigrants on August 28, 1930, Gazzara started acting at 13 when he appeared in a play staged at the nearby Boys Club.

After graduating from high school, he entered Manhattan's Dramatic Workshop and in 1951 was accepted into the prestigious Actors Studio.

While successful on the big screen, he periodically returned to Broadway. He received a Tony nomination in 1975 for Hughie/Duet and another nomination in 1977 for a revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Gazzara is survived by his wife of 30 years, Elke, and a daughter.
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