Actor Ben Gazzara dead at 81

Feb. 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM
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NEW YORK, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Actor Ben Gazzara died of pancreatic cancer at New York's Bellevue Hospital Center Friday, his lawyer said. He was 81.

The New York Times confirmed Gazzara's death with his attorney Jay Julien.

Born Biagio Anthony Gazzara in New York, he studied acting with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in Manhattan and went on to star in the original 1955 Broadway production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," as well as director John Cassavetes' films "Husbands," "Opening Night" and "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie."

His other big-screen credits included "Anatomy of a Murder," "Saint Jack," "They All Laughed," "Bloodline," "Bandits," "The Spanish Prisoner," "The Big Lebowski" and "Summer of Sam."

Gazzara appeared in the stage productions "Nobody Don't Like Yogi," "A Hatful of Rain," "The Night Circus," "Strange Interlude," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" "Hughie" and "Duet." His last Broadway appearance was in the revival of "Awake and Sing!" in 2006, the Times said.

He starred in the 1960s TV series "Run for Your Life," and TV movies "An Early Frost" and "Hysterical Blindness," as well.

The actor had been married to the former Elke Stuckmann since 1982. He is survived by his wife and his daughter Elizabeth from a previous marriage, as well as Danja, his wife's daughter, whom Gazzara adopted, the Times said.

Gazzara is also survived by a brother, Anthony.

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