Actor Ben Gazzara Dead at 81

He died of pancreatic cancer in New York

Actor Ben Gazzara died in New York Friday at the age of 81.

The man, whose film and Broadway career spanned more than five decades, succumbed to pancreatic cancer at Bellevue Hospital, his lawyer told The New York Times.

His final Broadway performance was in "Awake and Sing!" in 2006, capping off a long stage career that included appearances in the likes of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "A Hatful of Rain," which earned him a Tony Award nomination in 1955.

Gazzara, born Biagio Anthony Gazzara to Italian immigrants in Manhattan, also appeared in television shows, like NBC's  "Run for Your Life," which earned him two Emmy nominations, and movies, like the Coen brothers' "Big Lebowski."

He began his career at New York's Actors Studio—the same place Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger began theirs—studying under Lee Strasberg.

Throughout his career, which was punctuated with bouts of depression, he would return to his parent's homeland to act in films, like "Il Camorrista," and Stefano Mignucci's "Bandits."

His battle with cancer began in 1999 when he was diagnosed with oral cancer. He is survived by his third wife, her daughter (whom he adopted) and a daughter from his second marriage.

Selected Reading: The New York Times

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