Actor Ed Lauter Dies at Age 74

Ed Lauter, the always working character actor who played the butler/chauffeur of Berenice Bejo’s character Peppy in the best-picture Oscar winner "The Artist," died Wednesday. He was 74.

Lauter discovered in May that he had contracted mesothelioma, a terminal form of cancer most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos, publicist Edward Lozzi told The Hollywood Reporter.

Lauter recently played a baseball scout opposite Clint Eastwood in "Trouble With the Curve" (2012) and had recurring roles on Showtime drama "Shameless" as Dick Healey and on USA Network’s "Pysch" as Deputy Commissioner Ed Dykstra. Earlier, he recurred on "ER," playing Fire Captain Dannaker.

A native of Long Beach, N.Y., Lauter made his TV debut on a 1971 episode of "Mannix" and arrived on the big screen for the first time in the Western "Dirty Little Billy" (1972). One of those character actors whose name is unknown but is instantly recognizable, he is listed with an incredible 204 credits as an actor on IMDb.

In Alfred Hitchcock’s final film, "Family Plot" (1976), the balding, angular Lauter played Maloney, the dangerous, blue-collar man who knows too much about dapper jewel thief and kidnapper Arthur Adamson (William Devane). Hitchcock cast Lauter after seeing him play Captain Wilhelm Knauer, the sadistic leader of the guards who go up against Burt Reynolds’ convict football team, in the classic "The Longest Yard" (1974).

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