Character Actor Ben Gazzara Dies at 81

Entertainment Feb. 4, 2012 AT 10:55AM
Character Actor Ben Gazzara Dies at 81

Legendary stage and screen actor Ben Gazzara lost his battle with pancreatic cancer Friday, his lawyer Jay Julien told the New York Times. He was 81.

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Originating the role of Brick Pollitt in Broadway's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955, the method actor went on to perform on the Great White Way as drug addict Johnny Pope in A Hatful of Rain. His role in Rain earned Gazzara his first of three Tony Award nominations.

Making a splash on the small screen in 1965's Run for Your Life, Gazzara received two Emmy nominations during his three-year stint on the series.

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In the years since Run for Your Life wrapped, the actor often teamed with pal John Cassavetes on projects including The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Opening Night.

More recently, Gazzara appeared in The Thomas Crown Affair, The Big Lobowski and costarred alongside Nicole Kidman in 2003's Dogville.

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He is survived by his brother, wife and two children.

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