Ben Gazzara
Ben Gazzara dies at 81

Award-winning American stage and film actor Ben Gazzara, famous for his tough-guy attitude and gruff voice, passed away on Friday. Gazzara, 81, died at the Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan, New York, of pancreatic cancer.

The news was confirmed by Jay Julien (Gazzara's lawyer), who said the actor's family was present by his side during the last moments. The actor's career spanned several memorable highlights, including his role as "Brick" in the original Broadway adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and his role in 1959 courtroom drama "Anatomy of a Murder".

Gazzara's long career included appearances in several Broadway productions, films and television shows. He was nominated for three Tony awards in the "Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play" category for his performances in "A Hatful of Rain" (1956), "Hughie and Duet" (1975) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1977). He also starred in a television series called "Run for Your Life", which aired from 1965 to 1969 and earned him two Emmy nominations.

It wasn't always a bed of roses though.

In a Daily News interview, Gazzara was quoted as saying he "hated it".

"The repetition, so predictable I could almost do the next show without reading the script," he exclaimed. Nevertheless, the talented actor picked up his first Tony award in 2006, for his role in "Awake and Sing."

Towards the latter half of his career, Gazzara essayed minor roles in several films - "Road House" (1989), "The Big Lebowski" (1998), "Thomas Crown Affair" (1999) and "Dogville" (2003).

Gazzara married thrice, two of which ended in divorce. He is now survived by Elke Krivat (his third wife), their daughter Elizabeth, an adopted daughter and Anthony (Gazzara's brother).