Veteran actor Ben Gazzara passed away earlier today at the Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan at the age of 81, after a longtime battle with pancreatic cancer.

Ben Gazzara was born on August 28, 1930 in the East Side of Manhattan to Italian immigrants. He enrolled in the prestigious Actors Studio in Manhattan, and honed his craft under the tutelage of legendary acting teacher Lee Strasberg.

He is best known for is work with director John Cassavetes including roles in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Opening Night. He also worked with acclaimed directors such as Peter Bogdanovich (Saint Jack, They All Laughed), Otto Preminger (Anatomy of a Murder), David Mamet (The Spanish Prisoner), Spike Lee (Summer of Sam), and Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (The Big Lebowski).

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He was also known for his extensive work on the Broadway stage, including his turn as Brick in the original version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Ben Gazzara was last seen in the action-thriller 13. He was nominated for three Golden Globe awards, all for his work in the TV series Run for Your Life, and he won an Emmy in 2002 for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series or Movie, for his performance in the HBO TV movie Hysterical Blindness.

He is survived by his wife, Elke Stuckmann, and two daughters.

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