Veteran character actor Ed Lauter, who played the butler/chauffeur in 2011's movie "The Artist", passed away on Wednesday, October 16. He was 74.
Citing Lauter's publicist Edward Lozzi, The Associated Press reports that the actor died because of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer which is commonly caused by asbestos exposure. Lauter found out that he contracted the disease in May.
Lauter played in about 200 movies and TV series throughout his 50 years of career. He made his small-screen debut on "Mannix" in 1971. He took part in a movie for the first time in "Dirty Little Billy" in 1972.
Lauter played brutal prison guard in 1974's comedy/drama "The Longest Yard" and appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's last film "The Family Plot" as a sleazy gas station attendant. He also played a violent cop in "Death Wish 3". In addition, he played alongside Tom Cruise in "Born on the Fourth of July". Lauter's recently appeared in 2012's "Trouble With the Curve", where he played alongside Clint Eastwood.
Lauter, who also appeared on TV series such as "The Office", "Murder, She Wrote" and "The Rockford Files" and "ER" among others, once said that people recognized his face, but did not know his name when he was in public. "They'll say, 'Oh, yeah! There's that guy! You were in ... you were in ...' " the actor said.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that a scholarship fund is being set up to honor the actor's memory. The fund will be awarded to aspiring actors annually. Lauter's family hopes that people make donations to The Ed Lauter Foundation.