Character actor Ed Lauter passed away Wednesday from mesothelioma complications, he was 74 years old. Lauter acting career lasted for over forty years appearing in such films as "The Longest Yard", "The Family Plot", "The French Connection II", "Death Wish 3", "Cujo", "King Kong", "True Romance" and "Leaving Las Vegas". He's best known for playing unique characters that were either cops, judges, shady villains or people of authority. Lauter worked constantly and at the time of his death he had several films that were either completed or in post-production. He was married twice and survived by his second wife Mia and his four children.
Born October 30, 1938 and a native of Long Island, New York. He attended college and earned a B.A. in English. During the 60's he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served two years. After leaving the military, Lauter got his start in show business by studying drama at the Herbert Bergof Studio. He later acted on the stage on Broadway and performed as a stand-up comedian during his down time. His first theatrical film role was in the movie "The Magnificent Seven Ride!" During his long tenure in Hollywood (over two hundred film and t.v. appearances), Lauter acted with such stars and directors such as Burt Reynolds, Alfred Hitchcock, Tom Cruise, Lee Marvin, Anthony Hopkins, Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges.
Lauter found his niche in Hollywood as a character actor and was gainfully employed throughout his career. He was one of the always dependable actors who excelled in his roles whether it was a strict by-the-book police officer (Death Wish 3), a cruel but orderly prison screw) The Longest Yard)a greasy mechanic/roughneck (Cujo) or a cruel boss (Revenge of the Nerds II). Ed Lauter wasn't a leading man or high profiled star but one of the lunch pail actors who always gave it a 110% when they were behind the camera. It's actors like him who's job is to help out the stars and carry the scenes when necessary. Lauter had an interesting screen presence who shared a unique chemistry with such stars as Charles Bronson, and Burt Reynolds. He will be missed.