The actor who played one of the wealthiest passengers in James Cameron’s classic movie has passed away at the age of 94 following a struggle with lung cancer.
AceShowbiz –Lew Palter has passed away. The actor – who played businessman and Macy’s co-owner Isidor Straus in 1997 epic “Titanic” – lost battle with lung cancer on May 21 at the age of 94, his daughter Catherine Palter told the Hollywood Reporter.
Besides having roles in the likes of “The Flying Nun“, “Delvecchio“, and “L.A. Law“, Lew taught at CalArts School of Theater from 1971 until his retirement in 2013 as well as conducting private workshops around the world, and his daughter was proud of his impact in the world of education.
“As a teacher, he seemed to have truly changed people’s lives,” she said.
The school’s dean, Travis Preston, praised Lew for the way he instilled a love of the craft of acting in his students. He said, “He fostered deep curiosity, care, intellect and humour in every scene, play and class. He had the utmost respect of his students and encouraged all to find truth in their work and lives.”
Lew’s students over the years included Don Cheadle, Ed Harris, and Cecily Strong, whom he encouraged to try out for improv collective The Groundlings before her breakout on “Saturday Night Live“.
After acting and directing in plays off-Broadway, Lew joined the Millbrook Playhouse in Pennsylvania in the mid-1960s and made his TV debut on a 1967 episode of “Run for Your Life“.
His “Titanic” role was one of the most memorable in the film, with he and on-screen wife Elsa Raven, who played Ida, featuring in a montage embracing on a bed in their stateroom while the ship’s string quartet played as the water rushed in.
Isidor and Ida were two of the wealthiest passengers to lose their lives in the disaster, with the businessman refusing to get onto a lifeboat while women and children were waiting, and his wife insisting she wouldn’t leave without him.
Catherine revealed her mother, Lew’s wife Nancy Vawter – who died in November 2020 – had been suggested for the role of Ida Straus, but her agent was told producers were looking for “a different type of actress.”
As well as his daughter, Lew is survived by grandchildren Sam, Tessa, and Miranda.
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