Robert Vaughn, an Oscar-nominated actor and veteran of the United States Army, has died on this Veteran’s Day from acute leukemia in a hospital on the East Coast. He was 83.
Born in New York City, Vaughn got his start on television in the mid-1950s making guest appearances on shows such as Father Knows Best, Gunsmoke and Dragnet. His work in television would eventually lead to his most famous role–that of agent Napoleon Solo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
But Vaughn also had a successful film career, starting with uncredited cameos in 1956’s The Ten Commandments. He was originally cast as Steve Dallas in Sweet Smell of Success, but had to back out when the military drafted him. He was replaced in the role by Burt Lancaster.
His Oscar nomination came from his work as Chet, the drunken Korean war veteran friend of Paul Newman’s Tony in 1959’s The Young Philadelphians.
He had the unique honor of appearing in three film adaptations of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. The most famous, of course, was 1960’s The Magnificent Seven, where he played Lee. But he also played a similar role in Roger Corman’s 1980 sci-fi take on the story, Battle Beyond the Stars and a role in the 2012 soccer-themed British production called The Magnificent Eleven.
Vaughn also appeared in films such as Bullitt, The Towering Inferno, S.O.B., and as the big bad guy in Superman III. His most recent screen role was in Gold Star, which received limited release last month.