Ben Gazzara, veteran actor of stage, movies and television, died of pancreatic cancer at Bellevue Hospital Center, his attorney Jay Julien told the New York Times. He was 81. The New York native studied at the Actors Studio and starred in numerous Broadway productions including Tennessee Williams’ Cat On A Hot Tin Roof directed by Elia Kazan, though for the film version he lost out to Paul Newman. In movies, he made a strong impression as the accused killer in Otto Preminger’s 1959 courtroom drama Anatomy Of A Murder. Of his extensive TV work, he’s perhaps best remembered for NBC’s 1965-68 Run For Your Life, in which he played a terminally ill man trying to squeeze the most out of his remaining time alive. He continued to work with acclaimed film directors. His initial collaboration with John Cassavetes was on Husbands, which also starred Cassavetes and Peter Falk. Other films included the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski, Spike Lee’s Summer Of Sam, David Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner, Todd Solondz’s Happiness, John Turturro’s Illuminata and John McTiernan’s 1999 version of The Thomas Crown Affair. Gazzara is survived by his third wife, the former Elke Stuckmann, and their daughters.
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