Eli Wallach Dies; Veteran Actor Was 98

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Eli Wallach, a gravelly voiced, veteran character actor who appeared in countless films alongside the biggest stars around for decades, has died.

He was 98 years old.

Eli Wallach Photo

Wallach co-starred with Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe in The Misfits, Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Al Pacino in The Godfather: Part III.

After two years of Army service during WWII, Wallach debuted on Broadway in 1945 and won a Tony Award for Tennessee Williams's 1951 The Rose Tattoo.

Williams also wrote the script for Wallach's movie debut, the 1956 Baby Doll, costarring Carroll Baker and Karl Malden and directed by Elia Kazan.

Oddly, Wallach often played Mexican bandits in movies, most memorably in 1960's The Magnificent Seven, taking on Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner.

In addition to a decorated movie career, Wallach also graced TV in various roles, both on dramatic specials and such series as 77 Sunset Strip.

Honored with a special Oscar in 2010, Eli noted, "I've played more bandits, thieves, warlords, molesters and Mafiosi than you could shake a stick at."

But, he noted, in real life he liked antique clocks and watching tennis.

One of his countless costars, Kate Winslet, told the Oscars crowd, who included Wallach and his longtime wife (since 1948), the actress Anne Jackson:

"Eli Wallach is my very own Sexiest Man Alive! The truth is Annie, if I'd been around 60 years ago, you would have had some tough competition!"

Winslet went on to say, "He's always smiling, always chatting, always concentrating, always telling stories ... He could go take after take after take."

"There were days, I must confess, when I'd worry about him getting tired. But not Eli," said Winslet. "I'd say to him, 'Eli, please, would you go home now."

"We've been here for 20 hours and it's nearly midnight.' But he'd look at me, almost offended, and say, 'Oh no … I'm not going home. Not when I'm playing with you!' "

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