You might not recognize the name, but surely the face is familiar, especially if you watched a lot of films and TV shows from the 1970s to the 1990s. Ed Lauter, who played everything from prison guards to police detectives to FBI agents over his over forty year career, died Wednesday after a battle with mesothelioma. He was 74.
Lauter was born in Long Beach, Long Island, New York. He studied drama at the Herbert Berghof School and made his debut on the Broadway stage in 1970’s in The Great White Hope. He soon relocated to Los Angeles where he worked on TV shows and as a stand-up comedian before breaking into film. He made his film debut in the 1972 western, Dirty Little Billy.
Two years later, Lauter would star in what might be considered his breakthrough role as Captain Wilhelm Knauer in 1974’s The Longest Yard (he would have a cameo in the 2005 remake) and two years after that would co-star in Alfred Hitchcock’s final film, Family Plot (he would have had a role in Hitchcock’s next film, The Short Night, but the director passed away before that could happen).
The actor would go on to have supporting roles in films such as King Kong, Cujo, Lassiter, Death Wish 3, Real Genius, Born on the Fourth of July, The Rocketeer and True Romance. He had also made appearances in TV shows such as Hawaii Five-O, The A-Team, BJ and the Bear, Hardcastle and McCormick, Murder, She Wrote, Star Trek: The Next Generation and The X-Files. His most recent film work was 2011’s The Artist and 2012’s Trouble With the Curve and had recurring roles on TV in Psych and Shameless. He has numerous films in post-production that will be released as far as 2015.