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Actor Ben Gazzara has died aged 81

It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of actor Ben Gazzara, a star whose screen presence will possibly mean more to a lot of people than his not-too-familiar name.

Gazzara died in a Manhattan hospital on Friday 3 February as a result of his pancreatic cancer.

He first found fame in a stage production of Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof , but he went on to notch up well over a hundred TV and film appearances.

Most notable among his movie out put was Otto Preminger's Anatomy Of A Murder (which kickstarted his big screen career in 1959), and a brief but impactful role as porn baron Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski .

We'll perhaps remember him most fondly as the scourge of the Double Deuce nightclub in '80s gem Road House , which saw him face off against Patrick Swayze's philosophising bouncer.

You're also likely to have seen him in everything from Happiness , to The Thomas Crown Affair remake, to Summer Of Sam and Dogville .

His gruff, piercing intensity was frequently utilised for tough-guy roles, such as the lead in Capone .

Our thoughts go out to Gazzara's wife and daughter.