BREAKING NEWS: Actor Ben Gazzara, Who Played His Share of Heavies, Dies at 81

Ben Gazzara, Actor of Stage and Screen, Dies at 81 - NYTimes.com reports.

Gazzara, an intense actor whose long career included playing Brick in the original “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” on Broadway, roles in influential films by John Cassavetes and work with several generations of top Hollywood directors, died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 81.

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Ben Gazzara in the television series “Run for Your Life” in 1966. More Photos »
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The cause was pancreatic cancer, his lawyer, Jay Julien, said. Mr. Gazzara lived in Manhattan.

Mr. Gazzara studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in Manhattan, where the careers of stars like Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger were shaped, and like them he had a visceral presence. It earned him regular work across half a century, not only onstage — his last Broadway appearance was in the revival of “Awake and Sing!” in 2006 — but in dozens of movies and all sorts of television shows, including the starring role in the 1960s series “Run for Your Life.”

“When I became hot... I got a lot of offers. I won’t tell you the pictures I turned down because you would say, ‘You are a fool.'  And I was a fool.” 

If Mr. Gazzara never achieved Brando’s stature, that was partly because of a certain laissez-faire approach to his career: an early suspicion of film, a reluctance to go after desirable roles.

“When I became hot, so to speak, in the theater, I got a lot of offers,” he said in a 1998 interview on “Charlie Rose.” “I won’t tell you the pictures I turned down because you would say, ‘You are a fool.’ And I was a fool.”

And yet Mr. Gazzara’s enduring reputation may well rest on his film work, specifically the movies he made with Mr. Cassavetes, the actor and director revered by cinephiles for his risk-taking independent projects and a directorial style that encouraged spontaneity.

Read the rest of the article, at NYTimes.com.

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