Ned Beatty, Scene-Stealing Character Actor Staple of Network, Deliverance, and Many More, Dies at 83

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Ned Beatty, Scene-Stealing Character Actor Staple of <i>Network</i>, <i>Deliverance</i>, and Many More, Dies at 83

Actor Ned Beatty, the prolific and always impactful actor whose film career spanned 40 years and over 150 roles, has died at age 83.

Beatty died in Los Angeles on Sunday of natural causes, according to his manager. The actor started his screen career off with a bang bigger than almost any other who would go on to carry his unique brand of sideline scene-stealing and supportive character work: As one of the unlucky boating party in Deliverance. His everyman commitment to emotion, where one push too far brings a recognizable character to unprecedented extremes, announced itself immediately.

That density and honesty of performance continued throughout his career, perhaps most familiarly in Sidney Lumet and Paddy Chayefsky’s Network. Beatty appeared in under six minutes of the satire, but his brutal speech earned him his sole Oscar nomination. He stole these kinds of shows often, in films like Mikey and Nicky, Superman, All the President’s Men and even Toy Story 3, where he voices the most sinister teddy bear ever brought to screen. His other films include The Big Easy, Nashville and Rudy.

However, these extensive film credits didn’t take away from his work on TV—where he appeared on one of the small screen’s true gamechangers, Homicide: Life on the Street—or on stage, where he put his Southern upbringing to good use earning a Drama Desk Award for his work as Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Beatty’s penchant for realism—for evoking mixtures of pathetic, evil, charming, funny and forlorn—placed him at the peak of character actors. He added whatever was needed to a scene and did so without betraying the person (or, in the case of Rango, the evil turtle mayor) he was playing.

“Ned passed away from natural causes Sunday morning, surrounded by his family and loved ones,” Beatty’s manager said in a statement. “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.”

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