25 Jun 2014

Veteran actor Eli Wallach dies

8:34 pm on 25 June 2014

American actor Eli Wallach, known by many for his role in the western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as part of a career spanning six decades, has died at 98.

Eli Wallach received an honorary Oscar.

Eli Wallach received an honorary Oscar. Photo: AFP

The New York Times said Wallach's death on Tuesday was confirmed by his daughter Katherine. The cause was not given.

The son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, he was brought up in the New York district of Brooklyn and studied Method acting with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift.

Wallach appeared in more than 80 films but was never nominated for an Oscar. However, in 2010 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave him an honorary one, AFP reports.

The academy hailed him as "the quintessential chameleon, effortlessly inhabiting a wide range of characters, while putting his inimitable stamp on every role," the Times reported.

In the spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Wallach played a greedy Mexican pitted against Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. He also starred in The Misfits and The Magnificent Seven, playing a Mexican bandit.

Star of stage and screen

Wallach made his Broadway stage debut in 1945 and also worked extensively in television.

In the 1950s he won a Tony for his role in Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo, playing a truck driver who courts and wins over an Italian widow. The female lead, Maureen Stapleton, also won a Tony for her work in the play.

He continued to work well into his 90s. He again appeared alongside Eastwood in the 2003 dramatic thriller Mystic River and in 2010 played in both Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer and Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

Wallach, who called his autobiography The Good, the Bad and Me, is survived by his wife Anne and three children.