Actor Ed Lauter passed away aged 74 yesterday (16th Oct.) due to mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer usually caused by asbestos exposure, his publicist Edward Lozzi said, via The Telegraph. The New York-born star of the Oscar-winning movie, The Artist, enjoyed an acting career that spanned 45 years and he appeared in over 100 films.

Ed Lauter
Ed Lauter, Actor, Has Died.

A skilled actor and impersonator, Lauter was often cast as thug-like characters due to his angular face and bald head. He said of his typecasted roles: "I like those roles. Lee Marvin once told me, 'When you play a heavy, every once in a while make the audience like you a little bit. Then they'll think, 'Wait a minute, he's not such a bad guy. Did you see the way he petted that dog?'" via BBC News.

He made his Broadway debut in 1938 in the staged The Great White Hope alongside James Earl Jones. He made his transition into television in 1971 in a private eye series Mannix and he made his first big screen appearance in the Western, Dirty Little Billy, in 1972.

Ed Lauter Marchell Williams
Ed With His Wife, Mia.

He went on to play other menacing film roles, including the brutal prison guard and Burt Reynolds' nemesis in 1974 comedy-drama The Longest Yard, the sleazy gas station attendant in Alfred Hitchcock's The Family Plot, and the violent police officer who kills rather than imprisons criminals in Death Wish 3 alongside Charles Bronson. The actor's other TV appearances include E.R, The Office, Murder, She Wrote and The Rockford Files.

Lauter played Berenice Bejo's butler in the 2011 Oscar-winning silent film The Artist. Though his work may not be familiar to many people, this was an aspect of his career that he laughed at. "Sometimes people don't know my name," he said, via NY Daily News. "They'll say, 'Oh, yeah! There's that guy! You were in ... you were in ... ."

Ed Lauter Palm Springs
Lauter Appeared In The Phenomenal 'The Artist.'

He continued to work in the months leading up to his death which means that he completed role in several films that we are still to see. His family, which includes four children and his wife of eight years, Mia, have asked that donations be made to a charitable foundation helpng young actors in honour of the truly talented performer.