Ned Beatty, the Oscar-nominated character actor known for his scene-stealing roles in Deliverance, Network, Superman, and Nashville, has died at the age of 83.
A veteran of over 150 films and television roles, Beatty made his first big-screen appearance in 1972’s Deliverance about four men whose canoeing trip goes tragically awry. (In perhaps the movie’s most culturally enduring and infamous scene, Beatty’s character is assaulted by “mountain men” and forced to “squeal like a pig.”) Deliverance later earned a Best Picture nomination and was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.
Beatty and Deliverance co-star Burt Reynolds would share the screen together over the next decade, with Beatty popping up in Reynolds-starring vehicles White Lightning, Gator, Stroker Ace, and Switching Channels.
In 1976, Beatty was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his essentially one-scene role as TV chairman Arthur Jensen in Network, an appearance that produced one of cinema’s best cameos and greatest monologues:
In Dave Itzkoff’s 2014 book Mad as Hell: The Making of ‘Network’ and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies, Beatty revealed that he had secured his role in the film by claiming he had another movie offer for more money.
“I was lying like a snake,” Beatty said. “I think they liked the fact that I was at least trying to be sly. I was doing something that maybe might be in their lexicon.”
Born on July 6th, 1937, in Louisville, Kentucky, Beatty spent much of his early acting career in regional theater before landing his first big on-screen role in Deliverance. He returned to the stage in 2003, starring as Big Daddy in the London and Broadway revivals of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. His appearance in the London revival earned him an Olivier Award nomination.
While his screen time was limited mainly to supporting roles, the Kentucky-born actor also made memorable appearances: In Robert Altman’s Nashville as the husband/manager of Lily Tomlin’s country singer, in Superman and Superman II as the bumbling sidekick of Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor, in All the President’s Men as a Miami district attorney, in Rudy as the father of Sean Astin’s title character, and in the comedy Back to School as the dean of the college attended by Rodney Dangerfield.
Beatty’s television roles included Detective Stanley “Big Man” Boldander on Homicide: Life on the Street, from 1993 to 1995. He also appeared on Roseanne in a supporting role as Ed Conner, the father of John Goodman’s character Dan Conner.
In one of his final roles, Beatty lent his voice to the villainous stuffed bear Lots-O’-Huggins in Toy Story 3.