Legendary actor Eli Wallach, best known for his role as the villainous Tuco in The Good the Bad and the Ugly, passed away in New York City yesterday at the age of 98. The actor's passing was confirmed by his daughter, Katherine.
Born in 1915 in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, Eli Wallach began studying acting after receiving a B.A. and M.S. in education from the University of Texas and City College of New York. His acting ambitions were cut short when he was drafted to serve in World War II, but he began acting in several plays upon his return to New York in 1945. In 1948, he was one of the 20 core actors who helped found The Actor's Studio, where he honed his method acting craft.
He won a Tony Award in 1951 for his performance in Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo, which was directed by Elia Kazan. Tennessee Williams cast him in Camino Real shortly after The Rose Tattoo ended its run, which caused him to turn down a role in From Here to Eternity, which Frank Sinatra eventually won an Oscar for.
He made his feature film debut in 1956 with Baby Doll, which lead to a number of villainous supporting roles in films such as The Magnificent Seven, The Misfits, Seven Thieves and How the West Was Won, before landing his iconic role of Tuco in Sergio Leone's The Good the Bad and the Ugly.
Eli Wallach continued to work regularly throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including roles in The Angel Levine, Cinderella Liberty, Girlfriends, Tough Guys and Nuts. He continued to turn in strong performances in the 1990s and 2000s with roles in The Godfather: Part III, The Two Jakes, The Associate, Mystic River, The Hoax, The Holiday, The Ghost Writer and his final performance in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
The actor was recognized with an Honorary Oscar in 2010, for his work as, "the quintessential chameleon, effortlessly inhabiting a wide range of characters, while putting his inimitable stamp on every role."
The actor is survived by his wife of over 60 years, actress Anne Jackson, and their three children, Peter David, Roberta and Katherine.