Ned Beatty, a supporting actor whose hundreds of screen and stage roles captured the full spectrum of humanity — from sincerity to villainy, buffoonery to tragedy — and made him one of the most versatile performers of his generation, died June 13 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 83.
His death was confirmed by a son, Jon Beatty, who did not cite a specific cause.
In a career spanning six decades, Mr. Beatty marshaled his booming voice, roly-poly physique, beady eyes and Cheshire-cat grin into an impressive range of characters: amiable, self-deluding, menacing, terrified, or a nuanced combination of the four.
After years working in theater — including eight seasons with Arena Stage in Washington — Mr. Beatty emerged in his mid-30s as a much-in-demand supporting actor on-screen. His movie debut was in “Deliverance” (1972), about a quartet of Atlanta businessmen (Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight and Ronny Cox were the others) whose canoeing adventure in Appalachia turns into a gruesome tale of sodomy and murder.
My favorite Beatty performance is probably Delbert Reese in Altman’s Nashville, although he had many other good ones (including being one of the many splendidly cast cameos in All the President’s Men.) Like so many actors he didn’t get a lot of great projects as he aged but he could still give indelible performances — I loved him as Dan’s traveling salesman father in Roseanne, for example. R.I.P.
…as Shemp says, also shout out to his wonderful role in Homicide: Life on the Street. And R.I.P. the great Yaphet Kotto.