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Roberts Blossom dies at 87; character played neighbor in 'Home Alone'

Roberts Blossom, a veteran character actor who played the old, white-bearded next-door neighbor who befriends young

Macaulay Culkin

in the hit movie

has died. He was 87.

Blossom died Friday of natural causes at a nursing home in Santa Monica, said his daughter, Deborah.

The winner of three Obie Awards

for his performances in off-Broadway productions during the 1950s, '60s and '70s,

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Blossom also appeared on Broadway a number of times, including playing roles in

Edward Albee

's adaptation of

Carson McCullers

' "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe" and

Sam Shepard

's "Operation Sidewinder."

Blossom starred in the 1974 cult horror movie

in which he played a demented farmer who digs up his domineering mother's corpse and takes it home — then digs up other bodies to keep her company before he begins hunting live victims.

But he's best known in films as a character actor whose credits include

"The Hospital," "Slaughterhouse-Five," "The Great Gatsby," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Escape From Alcatraz," "Resurrection" and "Doc Hollywood."

Then there was his role as "old man Marley" in the 1990 family comedy "Home Alone."

"That's certainly the one he gained the most recognition from, and people still remember him from that," said Deborah Blossom. "He was very happy with the outcome of that movie and its popularity, and he was very happy to be recognized for it."

With a laugh, she added: "I think he'd rather be recognized for that than 'Deranged.' "

Blossom also did a lot of television, with guest roles on series such as "Moonlighting," "Northern Exposure" and "In the Heat of the Night."

In the late '70s, he won a Soapy Award as best villain for a recurring role in the soap opera "

Another World

."

Blossom was also a poet, whose works were published in several books.

"He wrote every day for 60 years," his daughter said. "I always say about him: He's a poet who made a living as an actor. His poetry was all pretty much about his philosophy: How can humans come together and unite?"

That's reflected in the 2000

documentary

directed by James Brih Abee.

Born March 25, 1924, in

New Haven

, Conn., Blossom grew up in Cleveland, where his family lost most of its fortune in the 1929 stock market crash. (Roberts is a family name on his mother's side.)

A 1941 graduate of Asheville School in

North Carolina

, Blossom attended Harvard for a year before being drafted into the Army during

World War II

. After the war, he began acting in Cleveland.

In

New York

in the '60s, he formed Filmstage, which has been described as a seminal multimedia avant-garde theater troupe. He retired from acting in the late '90s.

Blossom's marriage to his first wife, Beverly, ended in divorce. His second wife, Marylin, died in 1982.

Besides his daughter, he is survived by a son, Michael.

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