A face you’re bound to know: Actor Ed Lauter dies at 74

Actor Ed Lauter may not have been a shooting star, but he was no flash in the pan. After a four decade-long career, Lauter died Wednesday at age 74 of a rare cancer, mesothelioma, caused by asbestos exposure, his publicist said. (CNN)

Actor Ed Lauter may not have been a shooting star, but he was no flash in the pan. After a four decade-long career, Lauter died Wednesday at age 74 of a rare cancer, mesothelioma, caused by asbestos exposure, his publicist said. (CNN)

LOS ANGELES — A face you know is gone.

Actor Ed Lauter may not have been a shooting star, but he was no flash in the pan.

After a four decade-long career, Lauter died Wednesday at age 74 of a rare cancer, mesothelioma, caused by asbestos exposure, his publicist said.

You may not recognize Lauter’s name, but his long, thin, bald visage has shown up in many places. Often with a stern, squinting mien, other times with a debonaire smile cocked up on the right side of his face.

From “Mannix” in early 1970′s and on TV regularly since then, Lauter played detectives, sheriffs or mobster heavies.

You’re likely to have caught him in small roles in TV shows such as “Kojak,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Magnum P.I.,” “Miami Vice,” “The X-Files,” “Law and Order,” “ER,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” The list goes on.

One of his biggest roles was that of Captain Knauer in the movie “The Longest Yard” with Burt Reynolds. And more recently, you may have seen him in the Oscar winning movie “The Artist,” in the role of Peppy’s butler.

In “Death Wish 3,” he was the violent cop who teams with Charles Bronson’s vigilante to rid New York City’s streets of criminals.

He was in “Trouble With the Curve” in 2011 with Clint Eastwood and in “Born on the Fourth of July” with Tom Cruise. He was also in “The New Centurions” with George C. Scott and in “My Blue Heaven,” ”Revenge of the Nerds 2″ and “Not Another Teen Movie,” among many other films.

Lauter seemed to have been the opposite of the out-of-work actor, in demand for roles up to the end.

He shot three movies that have yet to be released. So it looks like you may be seeing him again sometime in the next two years.

He leaves behind a wife, Mia, and four children.

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