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Veteran Stage, Film Actor Ben Gazzara Dies At 81

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
February 3, 2012

Ben Gazzara died Friday at a hospital in New York of pancreatic cancer. The actor known for his brooding, tough-guy presence was 81.

Gazzara appeared in dozens of films, television shows and stage productions over his long career. On the TV show Run For Your Life, which ran for three season in the 1960s, Gazzara starred as a lawyer diagnosed with a terminal illness.

He is remembered as a powerful actor, who appeared in the original Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He acted on Broadway regularly over the course of 50 years, garnering three Tony nominations for his work on stage.

Gazzara made his big break into film with his role as an accused killer in Otto Preminger’s 1959 courtroom drama Anatomy of a Murder.

The son of an Italian brick layer, Gazzara studied acting first at a Boys and Girls Club in Manhattan, then at the famed Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg. Film buffs may remember him most fondly as a regular presence in films directed by his friend John Cassavetes.

NPR’s Neda Ulaby contributed to this report [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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