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Ed Lauter dies at 74 of cancer

Ed Lauter, known for his roles in "The Longest Yard" and "The Family Plot," and a busy four-decade career, died Wednesday after battling mesothelioma.

By Gabrielle Levy
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Ed Lauter dies at 74 of cancer
Ed Lauter, a cast member in the motion picture drama "Trouble with the Curve", attends the premiere of the film at the Village Theatre in Los Angeles on September 19, 2012. UPI/Jim Ruymen | License Photo

(UPI) -- You may not know Ed Lauter's name, but his dozens of movie and television roles over a four-decade career made him an unforgettable face.

Lauter, a character actor who was an ultimate "that guy," died Wednesday after battling mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure, his publicist, Edward Lozzi confirmed. He was 74.

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Some of his earliest roles included the prison guard nemesis of Burt Reynolds in "The Longest Yard" and a gas station attendant in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Family Plot," the horror maestro's final film. Hitchcock was reportedly so impressed with Lauter in the film he wanted to give him a major role in "The Short Night," a romantic espionage thriller that never went into production because of Hitchcock's death in 1980.

More recently, he appeared in "The Artist" as Peppy's butler and "Trouble With the Curve" with Clint Eastwood.

Lauter grew up in Long Beach, New York, and continued to work until just a few months ago.

He leaves behind his wife, Mia, and four children.

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