new York – Ned Beatty, the indelible actor whose first film role as a genius vacationer brutally raped by a lumberjack in “Deliverance” from 1972 launched him on a long, prolific and accomplished career, has passed away. He was 83 years old.

Beatty manager Deborah Miller said Beatty died of natural causes at her Los Angeles home on Sunday surrounded by friends and relatives.

After years in the regional theater, Beatty was cast for “Deliverance” as Bobby Trippe, the carefree member of a group of pleasure craft terrorized by backcountry thugs. The scene in which Trippe is brutalized became the film’s most memorable and established Beatty as an actor whose name moviegoers may not have known but still recognized as his face.

“For people like me, there’s a lot of ‘I know you! I know you! What have I seen you in? ‘ Beatty remarked without resentment in 1992.

Beatty received only one Oscar nomination, as a supporting actor for his role as business executive Arthur Jensen in 1976’s “Network”, but he was instrumental in some of his most popular films. time and worked constantly, his credits comprising over 150 films. and television shows.

He was just as memorable as villainous Lex Luther’s silly henchman Otis in Christopher Reeve’s first two films “Superman” and as a racist sheriff in “White Lightning”. Other films included “All The President’s Men”, “The Front Page”, “Nashville” and “The Big Easy”. In a 1977 interview, he explained why he preferred to be a supporting actor.

“The stars never want to throw a curved ball to the public, but my great joy is throwing curved balls,” he said. “Being a star reduces your effectiveness as an actor because you become an identifiable part of a product and somewhat predictable. You have to watch out for your P’s and Q’s and feed your fans. But I like to surprise the public, to do the unexpected.

He landed a rare leading role in the Irish film “Hear My Song” in 1991. The true story of legendary Irish tenor Josef Locke, who died at the height of a brilliant career, has been well commented on but largely unpublished in the United States. United. Between films, Beatty often worked on television and in the theater. He had recurring roles in “Roseanne” as father of John Goodman and as a detective in “Homicide: Life on the Streets”.

On Broadway, he won critical acclaim (and a Drama Desk Award) for his portrayal of Big Daddy in a cover of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” a role he first played at the age 21 in a joint stock company production. . He created controversy, however, when he was quoted in The New York Times about the skills of his young co-stars, Ashley Judd and Jason Patric.

“Ashley is a sweetheart,” he said, “and yet she doesn’t have a lot of tools.” Of Patric, he remarked, “He’s been improving all the time, but his journey is different. His most recent films included “Toy Story 3” in 2010 and two 2013 releases, “The Big Ask” and “Baggage Claim”. He retired soon after.

Ned Thomas Beatty was born in 1937 in Louisville, Kentucky, and raised in Lexington, where he joined the Disciples of Christ Protestant Christian Church. “It was the theater I attended when I was a kid,” he told The Associated Press in 1992. “It was where people would immerse themselves in their truest emotions and talk about things they didn’t talk about in everyday life. … The preaching was very often theatrical. For a while he thought about becoming a priest, but changed his mind after being cast in a high school production of “Harvey”.

He spent 10 summers at the Barter Theater in Abingdom, Virginia, and eight years at the Arena Stage Company in Washington, DC. At the Arena Stage, he appeared in Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” and starred in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”. Then his life changed forever when he took a train to New York to audition director John Boorman for the role of Bobby Trippe. Boorman told him the role was chosen, but changed his mind after seeing Beatty’s audition. Beatty, who married Sandra Johnson in 1999, had eight children from three previous marriages.


The late AP Entertainment writer Bob Thomas contributed biographical material for this story.

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