Rod Steiger

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Veteran actor Rod Steiger, who won an Academy Award for best actor for his role as a rough Southern police chief in the 1967 film “In the Heat of the Night,” died on Tuesday of pneumonia and kidney failure. He was 78.

He vividly portrayed such historical figures as Mussolini, Pontius Pilate, Napoleon, W.C. Fields and Al Capon. Some of his more memorable films include Doctor Zhivago,” “No Way to Treat a Lady,” “Waterloo,” “W.C. Fields and Me,” “Shiloh” and “The Pawnbroker.”

One of his most famous scenes was with Marlon Brando in “On The Waterfront,” where he played the brother of Brando’s character.

Steiger was born to a troubled song-and-dance team on April 14, 1925 in New York. His parents parted soon after his birth, and though his mother remarried, he left home at 15. After a stint in the Navy, his interest in acting developed when he began studying drama at the New School for Social Research on the G.I. Bill.

Steiger was married and divorced to Sally Gracie, actor Claire Bloom, Sherry Nelson and Paula Ellis. He and Bloom had a daughter, Anna, who is an opera singer. A son, Michael Winston, was born to him and Ellis in 1993. In 2000, he married Joan Benedict.