Ed Lauter, a gritty but taciturn character actor whose massive list of film and TV credits include “Leaving Las Vegas,” “The Artist” and “Trouble With the Curve,” died at his home in West Hollywood of mesothelioma on Wednesday. He was 74.
The squinty-eyed Lauter, who played a number of sports coaches, military men and sheriffs, had recently played Berenice Bejo’s butler in “The Artist” and a colleague of Clint Eastwood’s in baseball scout pic “Trouble With the Curve.”
The actor will last be seen in the 2014 release “The Town That Dreaded Sundown.”
On television Lauter had a recurring role on “ER” as Fire Captain Dannaker, and he was one of the stars of the 1991 Stephen King miniseries “Golden Years,” in which he played Gen. Louis Crewes.
During the 1970s the actor appeared in films including Robert Benton’s “Bad Company”; “The Last American Hero”; “The Longest Yard”; “King Kong”; “Family Plot,” the last film from Alfred Hitchcock; and perhaps most memorably as Rod Steiger’s crazy rapist son in the hillbilly thriller “Lolly-Madonna XXX.”
In a recent profile of the actor, Film Comment declared, “Lauter’s is the sort of go-to-work-every-day artistry that sits uneasy with the Academy: he makes breathing his trademarked mix of mercenary malice and madman gleam into myriad combustible characters seem as effortless as Satan flicking his tongue.”
Lauter, who began his showbiz career as a standup comedian and was known for his dead-on impersonations of celebrities, earned his first screen credits in the early 1970s guesting on shows such as “Mannix,” “Cannon” and “Ironside.” Over the next several decades he made guest appearances on everything from “The Waltons” to “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “The X-Files.”
Lauter is survived by his wife Mia and four children.