Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Ben Gazzara, R.I.P.

Ben Gazzara [1930-2012], that intense actor whose long career included playing Brick in the original CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF on Broadway, and had roles in influential films by John Cassavetes and worked with top Hollywood directors, has died aged 81.

He studied at the Actors Studio in Manhattan, which earned him regular work across half a century, not only onstage — but in dozens of movies and all sorts of television shows. His movies include THE STRANGE ONE, holding his own against James Stewart and George C Scott in Preminger's ANATOMY OF A MURDER in 1959 where he and Lee Remick are a very sexy couple. Perhaps his most important work was with John Cassavetes and Peter Falk (who died last year) in HUSBANDS in 1970 (though they barely knew each other then) and THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE, and with Gena Rowlands in OPENING NIGHT in '77. He is good too as the uncomprehending father in that early Aids drama AN EARLY FROST (with Gena Rowlands again), 1985. He also got involved with Audrey Hepburn in the two films they appeared in, the dreadful all-star BLOODLINE and THEY ALL LAUGHED. Other films included A RAGE TO LIVE, SAINT JACK, and the Coen Brothers THE BIG LEBOWSKI, and several made in Italy, where he also kept a home. An individual talent indeed, and another survivor gone from that great era of new actors of the late 50s/early 60s and the experimental '70s. He also directed episodes of COLUMBO and RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, and published an autobiography in 2004. I last saw him (looking sadly aged) in I LOVE NEW YORK.

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