Ben Gazzara

A respected film actor also known for his formidable stage performances, Ben Gazzara was born Aug. 28, 1930, to Sicilian immigrants in New York City. Playing an accused killer in an early big-screen effort, 1959's Anatomy of a Murder, Gazzara wowed audiences and critics. But when he hit a cinematic dry patch, he turned his talents to series television, copping two Emmy nominations for his role in "Run for Your Life."

Friendships with pioneering directors John Cassavetes and Peter Bogdanovich, who cast Gazzara in movies such as Opening Night (1977) and They All Laughed (1981), helped define his career. Returning to the small screen in 1985, he earned an Emmy nod for the telefilm An Early Frost and won the award nearly two decades later for his work in the 2002 cable drama Hysterical Blindness.

Other notable films for Gazzara include The Big Lebowski (1998) and Summer of Sam (1999). He died of pancreatic cancer Feb. 3, 2012.