Ned Beatty, who received an Oscar nomination for his role in “Network” during a prolific acting career that spanned more than four decades and who gave a terrifying performance as a weekend outdoor man on “Deliverance”, who was attacked by hillbilly folks on “Deliverance” , died at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday. He was 83.
His death was confirmed by Deborah Miller, the manager of Mr. Beatty, who did not immediately provide details of the cause. Complete information on his survivors was not immediately available.
During his career, Mr. Beatty has appeared in more than 150 film and television projects, often in supporting roles. While the beefy actor wasn’t known as a lead actor on the big screen, he has been linked to some of Hollywood’s most enduring films.
His credits include “All the President’s Men” (1976), “Superman” (1978), “Rudy” (1993) and “Back to School” (1986).
On television, Mr. Beatty played Stanley Bolander, the detective known as “Big Man” in Homicide: Life on the Street, who starred in the television series from 1993-1995. He also played Ed Conner, the father of John Goodman’s character Dan Conner, on “Roseanne”.
In 1976, Mr. Beatty was cast by Sidney Lumet and Paddy Chayefsky on “Network,” the critically acclaimed satire about ailing television network and a tube-obsessed nation. His character Arthur Jensen gave a memorable monologue in the film and earned Mr. Beatty an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
In the scene, Mr. Beatty, who plays the mustached network boss, calls the character Howard Beale, the presenter played by Peter Finch, into the company’s boardroom and draws the curtains. While the camera was focused on Mr. Beatty, who was standing at the far end of a conference table lined with bank lamps, he unleashed a wild self-talk. Mr. Beale had a lot to learn about the business world, preached Mr. Beatty’s character.
“And you interfered with the elemental forces of nature, Mr. Beale,” said Mr. Beatty in a roaring voice. “And you will atone.”
Mr. Beatty then modulated his delivery.
“Can I get through to you?” he said in a normal speaking voice.
In “Mad as Hell: The Making of ‘Network’ and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies,” a 2014 book by Dave Itzkoff, a culture reporter for the New York Times, Beatty said he was intimidated by the Length of speech, but enthusiastic about the character and the film.
To get the filmmakers to give him the role, Mr. Beatty said, he told them that he had another film offer for more money.
“I lied like a snake,” said Mr. Beatty. “I think they liked the fact that I was at least trying to be smart. I’ve done something that might be in your dictionary. “
Mr. Beatty made his film debut in Deliverance, the film adaptation of James Dickey’s 1972 novel about four friends whose canoeing trip in rural Georgia is doomed. Stripped in white underpants, his character Bobby is forced by a hillbilly to “squeal like a pig” before he is raped.
The line would go down in film family.
“’Squeak like a pig.’ How many times have this been shouted, said, or whispered to me since? ”Mr. Beatty wrote in an opinion piece for the New York Times in 1989.
Mr. Beatty did not distance himself from the scene.
“I suppose if someone (invariably a man) yells this at me, I should duck my head and look embarrassed to be recognized as the actor who suffered this shame,” he wrote. “But I’m just proud to be part of this story that director John Boorman made a classic. I think Bill McKinney (who portrayed the attacker) and I played the ‘rape’ scene as well as it could be played. “
Born on July 6, 1937 in Louisville, Kentucky, Mr. Beatty spent much of his acting career in the local theater, including eight years on the Arena Stage in Washington. In a 2003 interview, he told The Times that at the beginning of his career he had an average of 13 to 15 shows a year on stage and spent up to 300 days performing.
In 2003, Mr. Beatty starred as Big Daddy in the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” with Jason Patric and Ashley Judd. He repeated his performance in the role of southern plantation owner, for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award as part of the original London production of the revival.
Mr Beatty honestly judged his co-stars, saying that Broadway relied too much on celebrities and pushed them into challenging roles for which they did not have the acting skills.
“In the theater you want to go from here to there, you want something to be involved,” said Mr. Beatty. “Stage actors learn how to do it. Movie actors often don’t even think about it. They do what the director asks them to do, and they never give information about their performance – call it what you want – consistently, objectively. “
In 1978 “Superman” played Mr. Beatty Otis, the sinister toad of villain Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), a role that he repeated in 1980 in “Superman II”.
In 1986 he was cast in a comedic role as the exuberant and ruthless Dean Martin of the fictional Grand Lakes University in “Back to School” and offered Thornton Melon, the great and great clothing magnate (Rodney Dangerfield), to donate a building in exchange. The head of the business school in the film contradicted the quid pro quo.
“But in fairness I want to tell Mr. Melon here that it was a really big check,” replied the character of Mr. Beatty.
Mr. Beatty made another memorable performance in a small role as Daniel Rüttiger, the working man in “Rudy,” the 1993 film about a University of Notre Dame walk-on football player who makes up the team. When the father enters the stadium for the first time, the moment overwhelms him.
“This is the most beautiful sight those eyes have ever seen,” said Mr. Beatty.