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(Credit: Alan Light)

The definitive character actor Ned Beatty has died aged 83

Ned Beatty, the prolific character actor famous for roles in Deliverance, Network and the original Superman, passed away on Sunday at the age of 83.

Beatty’s manager, Deborah Miller, said in the following statement: “Ned passed away from natural causes Sunday morning, surrounded by his family and loved ones…his family has decided to keep details private at this time. Ned was an iconic, legendary talent, as well as a dear friend, and he will be missed by us all.”

Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1937, Beatty’s career started in regional theatre before moving to cinema, where he would make his debut in the cult classic Deliverance as an obnoxious businessman from Atalanta who gets attacked whilst with his colleagues on a canoe trip in Georgia. 

The performance, alongside Hollywood legends Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds and Ronny Cox, catapulted Beatty into the heights of the industry, earning an Oscar nomination just two years later for his supporting role in Sidney Lumet’s Network. Beatty’s brief performance as a TV network executive stands out as one of the film’s greatest moments, as his character gives an impassioned monologue to the unhinged Howard Beale (Peter Finch) about the importance of ‘total corporate control’.

With a large charismatic, bumbling personality, Beatty also proved to be the perfect choice for ‘Otis’ the strange sidekick to Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor in 1978’s Superman, as antagonists to Christopher Reeves’ titular character.
With other notable credits including Dardis in All the President’s Men, evil bear Lotso in Toy Story 3, and the sheriff in Where the Red Fern Grows, Beatty enjoyed an illustrious career across film and television. Such brought him a bevvy of award nominations, including an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a miniseries with Friendly Fire, whilst receiving a Drama Desk Award in 2004 for his role in the broadway Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

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