Actor Ben Gazzara dead at 81

Fri Feb 3, 2012 9:17pm EST
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20:49 03Feb12 -

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Ben Gazzara, known for his brooding tough-guy presence in dozens of films, television shows and stage productions over his long career, died of pancreatic cancer on Friday at a Manhattan hospital, his lawyer said. He was 81.

A three-time Tony nominee for his stage work, Gazzara made his big break into films with his role as an accused killer in Otto Preminger's 1959 courtroom drama "Anatomy of a Murder."

He went on to work with numerous high-profile Hollywood directors, including John Cassavetes, with whom he collaborated on several films, including the 1976 gangster drama "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie."

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Cooney)

<p>U.S. actor Ben Gazzara reacts during a news conference at the San Sebastian's Film Festival September 22, 2005. Gazzara will receive the Donostia prize for his lifetime career Thursday. REUTERS/Pablo Sanchez</p>