Ben GazzaraNEW YORK (AP) — Ben Gazzara, whose powerful dramatic performances brought an intensity to a variety of roles and made him a memorable presence in such iconic productions over the decades as the original “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” on Broadway and the film “The Big Le-bowski,” has died at age 81.
By: Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
NEW YORK (AP) — Ben Gazzara, whose powerful dramatic performances brought an intensity to a variety of roles and made him a memorable presence in such iconic productions over the decades as the original “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” on Broadway and the film “The Big Lebowski,” has died at age 81.
Longtime family friend Suzanne Mados said Gazzara died Friday in Manhattan. Mados, who owned the Wyndham Hotel, where celebrities such as Peter Falk and Martin Sheen stayed, said he died after being placed in hospice care for cancer.
Gazzara began acting in television in 1952 with roles on the series “Danger” and “Kraft Television Theater.” Before landing “Run for Your Life,” he played a police detective in the series “Arrest and Trial,” which lasted two seasons.
Gazzara’s first two marriages, to actresses Louise Erikson and Janice Rule, ended in divorce.
While filming “Inchon” in Korea in 1981, he met Elke Krivat. They married the following year, and the union endured.
“Elke saved my life,” Gazzara said in 1999. “When I met her, I was drinking too much, fooling around too much, killing myself. She put romance and hope back in my life.”
He adopted Krivat’s daughter, Danja, as his own. She recalled on Friday that he was a “complex soul” and that his role as a father to her and his own daughter was challenging.
“I adored Ben, and so did his daughter,” she said. “But we both had difficulty with him ... I think the difficulty lay in his complexity of being an actor and those layers that you have, that you bring with you.”
Besides Danja, Gazzara is survived by his wife, daughter Elizabeth and a brother.
Former Associated Press writer Bob Thomas in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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