Character Actor Ed Lauter Dies of Mesothelioma

Showbiz veteran Ed Lauter died of mesothelioma this week in Los Angeles. The veteran character actor, whose stage and screen career stretched over several decades, was 74.

Lauter was diagnosed last May with mesothelioma, his publicist Edward Lozzi told the Hollywood Reporter. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It is not known how Lauter may have been exposed to asbestos. However, mesothelioma symptoms can take 10-45 years to appear after exposure to asbestos.

Lauter isn't the only celebrity to die of mesothelioma in recent months. In August, this devastating and incurable disease also claimed the life of Sean Sasser, AIDS activist and a former cast member of MTV's Real World.

Lauter's face was instantly recognizable, even to fans who might not know his name. Despite his illness, he continued to work until the last few months. Some of the film roles for which he is best remembered include Captain Wilhelm Knauer in The Longest Yard (1974) and Maloney in Alfred Hitchcock's final film, Family Plot (1976). More recently, Lauter appeared in The Artist (2011).

Lauter's television appearances included roles in both comedies and dramas. He guest starred on The Office, ER, NYPD Blue, Murder She Wrote, and Miami Vice, among others.

Born in 1938 in Long Beach, New York, Lauter was a seasoned performer who appeared in more than 200 films and television shows. He began his career as an actor on Broadway in 1968, appearing in the original stage production of The Great White Hope with James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander.

Lauter is survived by his wife, Mia, and four children. The Ed Lauter Foundation has been established in his honor. Gifts to the foundation will fund an annual scholarship to help aspiring young actors.

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Last modified: October 4, 2017