Ed Lauter, a veteran character actor whose showbiz career stretched across five decades, died on Wednesday. He was 74.
The Long Beach, New York, native's death was caused by mesothelioma, which is a rare form of cancer most commonly caused by asbestos exposure, his publicist told the Associated Press.
Lauter is best known for playing stern and authoritative characters in movies and on TV — the military man, police detective, tough prison guard, and no-nonsense dad or coach. And while his name may not be recognizable at first look, his face likely is due to the vast number of roles he's had in popular movies and shows over the last 30 years.
The actor, whose mother worked on Broadway in the 1920s, was bit by the acting bug in college and, after several stage appearances, made his movie debut in the 1972 western "The Magnificent Seven Ride!" He went on to appear in four Charles Bronson films, including "Death Wish 3"; Alfred Hitchcock's last film, "Family Plot"; and alongside Burt Reynolds in "The Longest Yard." One of his later roles came in the Oscar-winning silent film "The Artist."
He had a TV career that was equally varied. After a bit role as a sergeant in 1971's "Mannix," he went on to appear in "Star Trek: The Next Generation, "The X-Files," and a slew of TV crime dramas, including "Baretta," "Kojak" and "CSI." His most recent TV role was on Showtime's "Shameless" with William H. Macy.
Lauter rarely headlined a project -- his most high-profile "lead" was probably Stephen King's 1991 miniseries "Golden Years," opposite Felicity Huffman -- but in true character actor fashion, proved a reliable scene stealer, leaving his mark on dozens of admired movies and television shows.
Lauter continued to work up until just a few months ago and several of his projects will be released posthumously.
Here we look back at some of his most memorable roles:
1. "The Longest Yard" (1974 and 2005 versions): Lauter appeared as Captain Knauer in the 1974 original, about prison inmates who play football against their guards, as well as Duane in the 2005 Adam Sandler remake. In an interview with The Screen Lounge, Lauter said landing the original part put him on the map. "Robert Aldrich, who directed it, said to me, 'Now Eddie, I've seen a lot of your movies and shows, but tell me, I want to see you go out to the park and throw a football,'" he recalled. "So we got in a car, and we drove to a park, and I threw a football to this guy, and he dropped it, and Bob said, 'OK, you can handle a ball, you got the part, get back in the car.'"
2. "The Artist" (2011): He played the butler/chauffeur of Berenice Bejo's starlet Peppy in the 2011 silent French flick, which became somewhat of a phenomenon and won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2012.
3. "Family Plot" (1976): Lauter appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's last film as Joseph Maloney — and bonded with the legendary director on the set. "I tell you, there are a lot of stories about Hitch, about how badly he was supposed to treat his actors, but my experience couldn't have been further from that," Lauter told The Screen Lounge. "He was so nice to me; there was time for rehearsing, for suggestions. I used to join him for lunch in the commissary, he'd be sitting there and I'd just pull up a chair and he'd tell me these terrific stories from his career about guys like Charles Laughton and Montgomery Clift."
4. "Trouble With the Curve" (2012): In the sports drama starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake, he played the role of veteran baseball scout Max.
5. "Youngblood" (1986): Lauter clearly loved sports films. In the '80s hockey flick, he was Murray Chadwick, the coach of Rob Lowe's titular character.
6. "Death Wish 3" (1985): Throughout his career Lauter appeared in four Bronson films, but his most memorable was his stint in the action star's beloved series about vigilante killer Paul Kersey. Lauter played Richard S. Shriker, an NYPD lieutenant who had a mutual understanding with Kersey over his actions.
7. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" (1985): In the popular '80s dance flick, he played Sarah Jessica Parker's father, Colonel Glenn, who was very strict until – of course -- he came around at the end.
8. "Stephen King's Golden Years" (1991): He appeared in the seven-part TV miniseries, about a janitor who grows younger after being incubated by chemicals.
9. "Shameless" (2012-2013): One of Lauter's most recent roles was a four-episode arc as Dick Healey on the Showtime series "Shameless," which stars Macy and Emmy Rossum.
10. A Whole Lot of TV Crime Dramas (1971-2013): Lauter earned many a paycheck doing smaller roles in TV crime dramas. A lot of them. Just some of the many hit shows he appeared on through the years include "Kojak," "Baretta," "Charlie’s Angels," "Hawaii Five-0," "Magnum, P.I.," "The A-Team," Miami Vice," "NYPD Blue," "Cold Case," and "CSI."