Ned Beatty, the veteran character actor who starred in more than 100 movies and television shows during his legendary career, died on Sunday. He died in his sleep, surrounded by his family at home, a family member told TMZ. His death was not COVID-related. He was 83. Beatty was retired, having made his final film appearance in 2013's Baggage Claim.
Beatty was born in Louisville, Kentucky on July 6, 1937. He began acting on stage before he made his film debut in Deliverance (1972), opposite Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds. His memorable performance in the film, particularly as the victim in the male rape scene, was his first in a series of remarkable turns in the 1970s. However, during a 2012 panel with his Deliverance co-stars, Beatty revealed that he had actually appeared in FBI training videos before making his feature film debut.
"I made this movie for the FBI and when I walked in the door to the audition, I dressed up like an FBI guy because that’s what I thought I was going to play," Beatty recalled. "When I walked in the door the guy said, “That’s our bank robber right there!” So I robbed a bank." Beatty joked that the video was so widely seen that he would get arrested when he performed in small-town theater productions.
In 1977, he earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Network. Although he only appeared onscreen for just a few minutes, his astonishing scene with Peter Finch in a network boardroom was so chilling it was hard for audiences to forget.
Beatty's other 1970s films include Nashville, All The Presiden's Men, Mikey and Nicky, The Last American Hero, Wise Blood, 1941, and Gray Lady Down. In 1978, he starred as Lex Luthor's bumbling henchman Otis in Superman: The Movie. He reprised the role in Superman II.
Throughout the 1980s, Beatty continued acting regularly, appearing in The Incredible Shrinking Woman, The Big Easy, Stroker Ace, Shadows in the Storm, Rolling Vengeance, Midnight Crossing, and Ministry of Vengeance. He also appeared in the 1990 Captain America movie. His performance in the 1991 comedy Hear My Song earned him a Golden Globe nomination. Other movies late in his career include Charlie Wilson's War, Shooter, and The Killer Inside Me. In 2010, he voiced Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear in Pixar's Toy Story 3.
The actor also starred in dozens of television shows during his career. He earned Emmy nominations for Last Train Home (1989) and Friendly Fire (1979). Beatty also played Ed Conner in Roseanne and Stanley Bolander in Homicide: Life on the Streets. He also earned a Drama Desk Award for his performance in the 2004 stage production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Beatty is survived by his fourth wife, Sandra Johnson, and his eight children.