Ben Gazzara Obituary

Ben Gazzara (Biagio Anthony Gazzara), actor, born 28 August 1930; died 3 February 2012

Last week saw the death of acclaimed actor Ben Gazzara whose film, stage and television career spanned six decades. He has died aged 81 of pancreatic cancer after having been diagnosed with throat cancer in 1999. Gazzara was an intense character actor from the old school and part of the generation that produced actors such as Marlon Brando and Paul Newman. Indeed when he had starred in the original theatre production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, it was Newman who replaced him for the film version.

In truth it wasn’t for his film work that he received the most plaudits for but for his work in theatre.  And there were movie roles in the earlier stages of his career that he turned his nose up to concentrate on being a serious theatre actor. He did relent though and put in an classic performance in Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder. His most accomplished film work however came between the collaboration with his friend and film maker John Cassavettes. Husbands was his first film with the influential director starring opposite Peter Falk and Cassavettes himself, as three friends in the throes of a mid life crisis. He then took the lead in Cassavettes’ The Killing of a Chinese Bookie as the hapless strip joint owner Cosmo Vitelli, and starred in Opening Night with Gina Rowlands

A villainous role in perhaps Peter Griffin’s favourite movie: Road House is perhaps his most watched performance as he has light heartedly observed. Throughout his twighlight years he continued to work in film and television working for the Coen brothers, Spike Lee, Vincent Gallo and picking up numerous. Emmy award nominations for his television work. Below is his funny scene in The Big Lebowski, a small part playing the character Jackie Treehorn. The. Dude is trying to play sleuth, so as. Jackie is on the phone writing something down on a piece of paper, rips it out and then excuses himself from the Dude’s company, the Dude uses his “wits” to discover what. Jackie wrote…

In the Big Lebowski

The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie


As Charles Bukowski


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