Eli Wallach, the award-winning American actor who helped bring the method to the movies, has died at the age of 98. His death on Tuesday was confirmed to the New York Times by his daughter, Katherine. In a career spanning six decades, he remains best known for his roles in The Magnificent Seven and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Born in Brooklyn, the son of Polish immigrants who ran the local sweet shop, Wallach served in the second world war and learned his craft at the Actors’ Studio, studying alongside Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. He worked on Broadway in the post-war years and made his film debut with a Bafta-winning turn as a scheming cotton gin owner in Elia Kazan’s controversial 1958 drama Baby Doll.
By rights, however, Wallach’s arrival should have come sooner. He was the original choice to play the role of Angelo Maggio in the 1953 drama From Here to Eternity, only to bow out at the eleventh hour in favour of Frank Sinatra. Hollywood legend has it that Sinatra used his Mafia connections to secure the role, which would go on to win him the best supporting actor Oscar. Wallach, for his part, always denied this.