Eli Wallach, who died on Tuesday at the age of 98, was an actor whose working-class demeanor often led to typecasting and character parts on the big screen. Onstage, where he began his career and continued to work well into old age, his career was considerably more diverse, with significant roles in plays by Tennessee Williams and Clifford Odets.
As a New York actor, Wallach studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse but his longest association would be with the famed Actors Studio, where he was a founding member. He studied Method acting under Lee Strasberg -- and they would both end up acting in separate “Godfather” movies.
As a stage actor, Wallach found fame in Williams’ “The Rose Tattoo,” for which he won a Tony Award in 1952. He would also appear in a Broadway production of Williams’ “Camino Real” and would make his feature film debut in 1956’s “Baby Doll,” for which the renowned playwright adapted his own play, “27 Wagons Full of Cotton.”
The actor also starred in a New York production of Williams’ one-act play “This Property Is Condemned,” where he met his future wife, actress Anne Jackson.
Wallach appeared in a number of plays by Odets, including his last Broadway outing in a 1994 revival of Odets’ “The Flowering Peach” from the National Actors Theatre.
He starred in a 1971 TV version of Odets’ “Paradise Lost” and a 1986 TV adaptation of Odets’ little-seen play, “Rocket to the Moon,” alongside John Malkovich and Judy Davis.
Wallach’s most enduring acting partner on stage was also his wife. The couple, who married in 1948, appeared in numerous theater productions together including plays on Broadway and at New York’s Public Theater. Their memoir stage production, “In Persons,” was performed in New York in 1993.
Wallach had a late career triumph with the play “Visiting Mr. Green,” which had a long run at the Union Square Theatre in New York starting in 1997. The drama by Jeff Baron follows the relationship between an octogenarian widower and the young man who almost runs him down with a car.
Here’s the full Times obituary on Wallach.