Actor Ben Gazzara Dead at 81
He was a longtime presence on Broadway, TV, and the big screen
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2012 6:11 PM CST
In this 2005 file photo, Ben Gazzara is shown at the San Sebastian film festival in San Sebastian, Spain.   (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos, file)

(Newser) – Actor Ben Gazzara died of pancreatic cancer today, reports the New York Times. The obituary recounts a long and varied career on stage (a starring role in the original Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), television (Run for Your LIfe in the early '60s), and film (especially with director John Cassavetes in movies such as The Killing of a Chinese Bookie). He may be best known, however, for a wide range of supporting roles in movies such as Summer of Sam, Bandits, and the Big Lebowski.

Gazzara was a contemporary of Brando but never achieved the same level of fame, and the Times recounts a quote from the actor himself in 1998: "When I became hot, so to speak, in the theater, 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.”