American actor (1925-2002). Full name: Rodney Stephen Steiger. After quitting high school to join up with the Navy in World War II, he studied Method acting and worked his way through Broadway and television to movies. One of his biggest films was also one of his first: he was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Marlon Brando's brother in "On the Waterfront".

After a number of spectacular, almost overblown, performances in other movies, he got his second nomination in 1965's "The Pawnbroker", in which he played a Holocaust survivor. Just two years later, he finally won an Academy Award for playing the redneck sheriff in "In the Heat of the Night".

After this, he made what he later called his "dumbest career move": he turned down the lead role in "Patton". At the time, he didn't want the role because he feared it would glorify war, but he regretted his action as soon as he saw what a good job George C. Scott did with the movie. Indeed, Steiger could have done really great things as Patton: the beefy actor resembled George S. Patton more than Scott did, and his acting chops may have been stronger than Scott's as well (it's hard to determine these things without a head-to-head comparison, which, of course, we don't have). At any rate, it certainly would have supercharged Steiger's career and almost guaranteed him another Oscar statuette.

Steiger's health and career suffered setbacks in the 1970s, and he had trouble recovering his previous stature as an actor. Though he took lots of acting jobs, not all of them were really worthy of his talent.

He died on July 9, 2002 in Los Angeles after suffering pneumonia and kidney failure.

His movies have included: "A Month of Sundays", "Poolhall Junkies", "The Hollywood Sign", "The Flying Dutchman", "The Last Producer", "End of Days", "The Hurricane", "Crazy in Alabama", "Body and Soul", "Modern Vampires", "The Kid", "Mars Attacks!", "The Specialist", "Tales of the City", "Sinatra" (as mobster Sam Giancana), "The Player", "Guilty as Charged", "January Man", "American Gothic", "Lion of the Desert" and "The Last Days of Mussolini" (both as Benito Mussolini), "The Amityville Horror", "The Chosen", "F.I.S.T.", "Portrait of a Hitman", "Jesus of Nazareth" (as Pontius Pilate), "W.C. Fields and Me" (as W.C. Fields), "Lucky Luciano", "Waterloo" (as Napoleon Bonaparte), "The Illustrated Man", "No Way to Treat a Lady", "In the Heat of the Night", "Doctor Zhivago", "The Pawnbroker", "The Longest Day", "Al Capone", "Across the Bridge", "Run of the Arrow", "The Harder They Fall", "The Big Knife", "Oklahoma!", "On the Waterfront", and the TV movie version of "Marty".

Research from the Internet Movie Database (

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