Dead, Edward Matthew Lauter Jr. known as Ed Lauter, American actor and stand-up comedian died on October 16, 2013, two weeks before his 75th birthday, Lauter died of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, having been diagnosed five months earlier.
Following his death, Lauter’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against many well-known broadcasting, automotive, and manufacturing companies for exposing Lauter to asbestos, which caused the pleural mesothelioma that led to his death.
Born and raised in Long Beach, New York, the son of Sally Lee, a 1920s Broadway actress and dancer, and Edward Matthew Lauter.
He was of German and Irish descent. After graduating from high school, he majored in English Literature in college and received a B.A. degree in 1961 from the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University.
He starred with Bruce Dern, Barbara Harris, Karen Black and William Devane in Alfred Hitchcock’s final film, Family Plot.
Hitchcock was impressed by Lauter and asked him to play a major role in the romantic espionage thriller he planned as his next film; the director’s failing health and eventual death in 1980 meant that The Short Night never went into production.
Lauter’s TV appearances included the role as the villain sheriff Martin Stillman in the How the West Was Won TV series and guest-performances on The New Land, Psych, The X-Files (as Mulder’s childhood hero, Gemini astronaut Col.
Marcus Aurelius Belt in the season 1 episode “Space”), Kojak, The A-Team, Miami Vice, Magnum, P.I. (episode Operation Silent Night), Booker, Charmed, Highlander: The Series, Law & Order, Star Trek: The Next Generation (as Lt. Cmdr. Albert in the season 5 episode “The First Duty”), The Equalizer and ER (with a recurring role as Fire Captain Dannaker).
He had portrayed an eclectic array of characters over the years, including (but not limited to), authority/military figures, edgy villains, and good-hearted heavies.
Many will remember him for his appearance as the stern Captain Wilhelm Knauer in The Longest Yard (1974) (Lauter also made a cameo in the 2005 remake).
Lauter has also worked with Alfred Hitchcock, Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Jim Carrey and Liam Neeson. With a face that seems to appear without warning everywhere, Lauter remained in demand for roles on both films and television.
Alfred Hitchcock had planned on using him, in 1979, for one of the leads in his latest film, “The Short Night”, before it was canceled due to the director’s declining health.
Hitchcock had earlier directed him in his previous film, Family Plot (1976).
A recurring role as Fire Captain Dannaker on “ER” (NBC, 1994-2009) provided Lauter with better material than he had found in film for much of the 1990s, but in 2003, Lauter returned to form with “Seabiscuit,” playing Charles Strub, the investor in the Santa Anita racetrack who brought the famed race horse to Southern California.
In 2005, Lauter made another sort of return when he was, with Burt Reynolds, one of the only two original cast members to appear in the remake of “The Longest Yard.”
Lauter’s nostalgic appearance in the latter film led to roles in “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” (2006) and the Western “Seraphim Falls” (2006), starring Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan, but the seemingly workaholic Lauter would continue to appear in lesser features, apparently with little or no regard for the quality of the finished product.
He is survived by his fourth wife, Mia Lauter, and his four children from previous marriages.
He continued to work until a few months before his death, completing roles in several films still to be released after his death.