Ben Gazzara, who often portrayed tough or difficult characters on stage and screen during his 50-year career, died this afternoon, The New York Times is reporting. He was 81.
His lawyer said the actor died of pancreatic cancer at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.
In its obituary, the Times describes Gazzara as "an intense actor whose long career included playing Brick in the original Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway, roles in influential films by John Cassavetes and work with several generations of top Hollywood directors."
An older audience also remembers him from TV shows in the 1960s and '70s, including the popular 1965-to-1968 series Run for Your Life.
Younger filmgoers may remember Gazzara for his roles in two 1998 movies: as Jackie Treehorn, the pornography mogul and loan shark in the Coen brother's cult classic, The Big Lewbowski, and as Lenny Jordan, the father of the three sisters in Happiness, by Todd Solondz.