Monday, June 14, 2021

The Late Great Ned Beatty

Ned Beatty, who appeared in such movies as Deliverance (1972), Nashville (1975), and Network (1976), died yesterday, June 13 2021, at the age of 83.

Ned Beatty was born on July 6 1937 in Louisville, Kentucky. As a teenager he sang in barbershop quartets and at Baptist revivals and weddings. He received a scholarship to sing in the choir at the private Christian school Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. He would eventually drop out to pursue his acting career.

He made his stage debut in the play Wilderness Road, an outdoor play presented in Berea, Kentucky in 1956. He joined the Barber Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia where he remained for some time. Afterwards he worked at the Arena Stage Company in Washington, DC for a time.

Ned Beatty made his Broadway debut in The Great White Hope in the late Sixties. He made his film debut in 1972 as the ill-fated Bobby in Deliverance. In the Seventies he played such notable roles as Judge Bean's saloon keeper Tector Crites in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), lawyer Del Reese in Nashville (1975), CAA Chairman (hence the head of UBS) Arthur Jensen in Network (1976), and Lex Luthor's henchman Otis in Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980). He also appeared in the movies The Thief Who Came to Dinner (1973), The Last American Hero (1973), White Lightning (1973), W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975), All the President's Men (1976), The Big Bus (1976), Gator (1976), Silver Streak (1976), Mikey and Nicky (1976), Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Great Bank Hoax (1977), Alambrista! (1978), Gray Lady Down (1978), Wise Blood (1978), Promises in the Dark (1979), 1941 (1979), The American Success Company (1980), and Hopscotch (1980). Mr. Beatty made his television debut in the TV movie Footsteps in 1972. During the Seventies he was the title character of the TV series Szysznyk. He guest starred on The Waltons, Gunsmoke, Lucas Tanner, Petrocelli, M*A*S*H, Hunter, Hawaii Five-O, The Rockford Files, Tales of the Unexpected, The Streets of San Francisco, Delvecchio, Nashville '99, Lucan, and Visions. He also appeared in several TV movies, including The Marcus-Nelson Murders and Friendly Fire (for which he received an Emmy nomination).

In the Eighties he appeared in the movies The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981), The Toy (1982), The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982), Touched (1983), Stroker Ace (1983), Restless Native (1985), Back to School (1986), The Big Easy (1986), The Fourth Protocol (1987), Rolling Vengeance (1987), The Trouble with Spies (1987), Switching Channels (1988), The Unholy (1988), Midnight Crossing (1988), Shadows in the Storm (1988), Purple People Eater (1988), Physical Evidence (1989), Time Trackers (1989), Tennessee Nights (1989), Chattahochee (1989), Ministry of Vengeance (1989), Big Bad John (1990), A Cry in the Wild (1990), Repossessed (1990), Angel Square (1990), and Captain America (1990). On television he appeared in the mini-series Celebrity,The Last Days of Pompeii, and Robert Kennedy and His Days. He guest starred on the shows Faerie Tale Theatre; Murder, She Wrote; American Playhouse, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Highway to Heaven, Dolly, and Saturday Night with Connie Chung. He appeared in several TV movies.

In the Nineties he was a regular on the TV shows The Boys and Homicide: Life on the Street. He had a recurring role on Roseanne. He guest starred on American Masters, Road to Avonlea, and The Golden Palace. He appeared in the mini-series Streets of Laredo, Gulliver's Travels, and I Was a Rat. He appeared in several TV movies, including Illusions and Crazy Horse. He appeared in the movies Going Under (1991), Hear My Song (1991), Blind Vision (1992), Preclude to Kiss (1992), Rudy (1993), Ed and His Dead Mother (1993), Radioland Murders (1994), Replikator (1994), Outlaws: The Legend of O.B. Taggart, Just Cause (1995), The Curse of Inferno (1997), He Got Game (1998), Cookie's Fortune (1999), Life (1999), and Spring Forward (1999).

In the Naughts Mr. Beatty appeared on Broadway in a revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He appeared in the movies Thunderpants (2002), Where the Red Fern Grows (2003), Sweet Land (2005), The Walker (2007), Shooter (2007), Charlie Wilson's War (2007), In the Electric Mist (2009), and The Killer Inside Me (2010).  He was the voice of Lotso in Toy Story 3 (2010). On television he appeared in the TV movies Roughing It and The Wool Cap. He guest starred on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation  and Law & Order. In the Teens he appeared in the movies Rampart (2011), Teddy Bears (2013), and Baggage Claim (2013). He was the voice of the Mayor in Rango (2011).

Ned Beatty was an incredible actor who leaves behind a legacy of great performances. His speech as die-hard capitalist and chairman of CAA, Arthur Jensen, in Network, remains one of the most remarkable speeches in movie history. There should be little wonder why he was nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the role. While the real life Martin Dardis disliked how he was played in the movie, Ned Beatty's performance as Mr. Dardis in All the President's Men remains impressive. Ned Beatty could easily play a buffoon, such as Otis in Superman  and Superman II, but he was also capable of much more serious roles. As Sheriff Connors in White Lightning he was the heavy and about as far from comic relief as one could get.

While he may be best known for his work in movies, Ned Beatty was also impressive on television. As Detective Stanley Bolander on Homicide: Life on the Street, he played a character who could be gruff, but also capable of being gentle and kind as well. He did an impressive job of playing Judge Roy Bean in the mini-series Streets of Laredo. Ned Beatty was an incredible actor and he always gave great performances.

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