Versatile US actor Ben Gazzara died in a New York hospital of pancreatic cancer, The New York Times said. He was 81.
A student at New York's legendary Actor's Studio where other Hollywood stars like Marlon Brando and Al Pacino learned their profession, Gazzara, who died Friday, took his first steps as an actor in the world of theater.
Gazzara won applause on the Broadway stage playing the part of Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Elia Kazan, though in the later movie version the role was taken by Paul Newman.
After debuting in Hollywood with The Strange One in 1957, he interpreted one of his most memorable roles two years later in Anatomy of a Murder by Otto Preminger, a film nominated for seven Academy Awards.
Other outstanding roles included the unforgettable characterization of Mafia capo Al Capone in the movie Capone by Steve Carver, and the enigmatic Klein in the 1997 thriller The Spanish Prisoner by David Mamet.
The all-around actor was also known for his small-screen appearances in series like Run for Your Life in the late 1960s, which earned him two Emmy Award nominations.
Born in New York Aug 28, 1930 to a family of Italian origin, Gazzara was thrice married and had a true Hollywood romance and gossip columnists' delight with actress Audrey Hepburn, with whom he shared top billing in the 1979 movie Bloodline.