Ned Beatty of 'Deliverance' and 'Superman' fame dies at 83

Ned Beatty of 'Deliverance' and 'Superman' fame dies at 83

Beatty's manager Deborah Miller revealed that the legendary actor passed away at his Los Angeles home surrounded by friends and family on Sunday morning.

Actor Ned Beatty, who was widely known for his iconic roles in classic dramas like Nashville, Network, and 1978's Superman, has sadly passed away. He was 83. Beatty's manager Deborah Miller revealed that the legendary actor passed away at his Los Angeles home surrounded by friends and family on Sunday morning, according to Deadline. Although details surrounding his death were not provided, it was said that Beatty died of natural causes. "Ned was an iconic, legendary talent, as well as a dear friend," shared manager Miller, "and he will be missed by us all."


Born on July 6, 1937, in Louisville, Kentucky, Ned Thomas Beatty began singing with professional gospel quartets by the time he was 10. Next, he diverted his attention to acting at the age of 19 and began performing at the Barter Theater in Abingdon, Erie (Penn.) Playhouse, Houston’s Playhouse Theater, and Arena Stage Company in Washington D.C., reports Variety. It was in 1972 that he debuted in the feature film Deliverance. In John Boorman’s harrowing survival thriller, Beatty appeared opposite Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds and played the role of an Atlanta businessman Bobby Trippe. 


Initially, Beatty had doubts about getting a part in the movie especially when he sat down with Boorman, his assistant, and their partners for lunch one day. "There was a very attractive lady [the wife of Boorman’s assistant] sitting next to me to my left and I spent the whole time giving her my best shot … I was terribly married [but still] terribly flirtatious," he recalled during a 1992 interview with CBC, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "I was quite the heel, and I think that’s what John Boorman liked. He said he thought I was the rudest person he had ever met."


Beatty, who was a veteran of local theatre soon became infamous for the movie's uncut 10-minute male rape sequence. In the years that followed, the actor wrote an op-ed about rape for The New York Times. "The bottom line [of his piece] and the bad news was that a man would rather be a rapist than have to identify with the victim of a rape," he noted. 

For his other works, Beatty appeared as a lawbreaking sheriff in 1973's White Lightening and 1976's Gator. He also portrayed the role of a country music singer-songwriter in 1975's W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings. In 1975, he played the role of Lily Tomlin’s good ol’ boy hustler-lawyer husband in Nashville. He elicited laughs as Lex Luthor’s floundering sidekick Otis in the 1978 movie Superman and also appeared in its 1980 sequel. Although he had a small role in Network, he made it a memorable one and was nominated for his first Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actor for it. 


He also appeared as a guest on television shows like The Rockford File, Hunter, Gunsmoke, Hawaii 5-0, and Delvecchio. In 1979 he received an Emmy nomination for the topical telepic Friendly Fire. His excellent role in the family film Last Train Home, gained him another nomination in 1989. Most recently, he played a senile judge in a 2006 episode of Law and Order. He also appeared in the role of a creepy serial-killer dentist in a 2007 episode of CSI. Beatty was acclaimed for his unmatched acting skills and during his performance as Big Daddy, the New York Times declared, "From the moment Mr. Beatty first shows up in the play’s second act, he brings with him the invigorating breeze of passionate, scrupulously detailed acting."


"As long as he is allowed to dominate the stage, Anthony Page’s production exhales the galvanizing honesty that is the elusive holy grail for Big Daddy," it continued. He went on to star in a revival of the musical Showboat in 1996 and even released an album of Christian music, In the Beginning Was the Word, in 2006. As for his personal life. Beatty got married four times, first to Walta Abbott, then to actress Belinda, and for the third time to Dorothy "Tinker" Lindsey. He is now survived by his fourth wife Sandra Johnson, and four children from his first marriage, two with actress Beatty, and two children from his third marriage to Lindsey. 

Cover image source: Getty | Photo by Frazer Harrison (L) IMDb (R)

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