Ned Beatty, the indelible character actor who starred in countless films including Deliverance, Superman, and Toy Story 3, and was nominated an Oscar for his supporting turn in Network, has died at the age of 83.
Variety reports that Beatty’s management confirmed that the Oscar-nominated actor died from natural causes on Saturday morning at his home in Los Angeles.
“Ned passed away from natural causes Sunday morning, surrounded by his family and loved ones,” Shelter Entertainment Group Talent Manager Deborah Miller said in an email.
Beatty is one of the rare few actors whose breakthrough performance was also his very first film role — as the genial vacationing suburbanite Bobby, whose horrifying sexual assault became a key scene in John Boorman’s acclaimed 1972 thriller Deliverance. Beatty would go on to give many more memorably supporting performances throughout the ’70s, in which he honed his craft as a character actor known for playing unsympathetic characters. In Nashville, he played the politically connected lawyer with no patience for deaf children, while in Network he earned an Oscar nomination for his brief role as the head of the conglomerate that owns the TV network. He was also game to play the buffoon in his role as Lex Luthor’s clumsy sidekick Otis in 1977’s Superman, or to dial it down to play a reporter who uncovers part of the Watergate conspiracy in All the President’s Men.
Through the mid-1970s, Beatty was also a steady presence on TV, appearing in guest spots in Gunsmoke, The Rockford Files, Hawaii 5-0, Hunter, Delvecchio, and in TV movies like 1980’s Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones. But his most memorable TV role came in the early 1990s, when he played the acerbic Detective Stanley Bolander on the ensemble police drama Homicide: Life on the Street.
He was once hailed by Daily Variety as the “busiest actor in Hollywood,” according to his agency, Shelter Entertainment Group. And his CV supports that — showing an actor who constantly worked through the ’80s, the ’90s, and well into the 2000s, during which he played the role that most endeared him to young generations: as the villainous stuffed bear Lotso, in 2010’s Toy Story 3.
Born and raised in Kentucky, Beatty grew up fishing and working on farms, per Shelter Entertainment.
“He started as a professional performer at age ten when he earned pocket money singing in gospel quartets and a barber shop,” the agency said.
Beatty would start off his acting career in the theater, first performing in Abingdon, Virginia and Washington, D.C., before making his way to Broadway. It was there that he caught the eye of Boorman, who wanted an unknown for the part of Bobby Trippe in Deliverance.
Beatty is survived by fourth wife Sandra Johnson and his eight children.
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