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Veteran TV and Film Actor Jack Warden


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Veteran TV and Film Actor Jack Warden

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Jack Warden

LOS ANGELES, California -- Jack Warden, an Emmy-winning and Academy Award-nominated actor who played gruff cops, coaches and soldiers in a career that spanned five decades, died on Wednesday, July 19 at a hospital in New York. He was 85.

Warden, a resident of Manhattan, had been reported in failing health for months. "Everything gave out. Old age," Sidney Pazoff, his longtime business manager said. "He really had turned downhill in the past month; heart and then kidney and then all kinds of stuff."

Warden was nominated twice for supporting-actor Oscars in two Warren Beatty movies. He was nominated for his role as a businessman in 1975's "Shampoo" and as the good-hearted football trainer in 1978's "Heaven Can Wait."

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Jack Warden in 'Heaven Can Wait'

He won a supporting actor Emmy for his role as Chicago Bears coach George Halas in the 1971 made-for-TV movie, "Brian's Song" and was twice nominated in the 1980s as leading actor in a comedy for his show, "Crazy Like a Fox."

Warden, with his white hair, weathered face and gravelly voice, was in demand for character parts for decades. In real life, the former boxer, deckhand and paratrooper was anything but a tough guy. "Very gentle. Very dapper," Pazoff said. "Most of them (actors) are pretty true to the characters that they play. He was one who was not."

Warden was born John H. Lebzelter on September 18, 1920 in Newark, New Jersey. He was still in high school during the Depression when he tried his hand at professional boxing under his mother's maiden name of Costello. He had 13 welterweight bouts in the Louisville area before joining the Navy, where he was sent to China and patrolled the Yangtze River.

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Wes Bates (left) and platoon (Staff) Sgt. Jack Lebzelter of A/501 at Camp Mackall,

North Carolina in 1943. Sgt. Lebzelter would later come to fame as Jack Warden.

He also had jobs as a nightclub bouncer, a lifeguard and a deckhand on an East River tugboat. In 1941, he joined the Merchant Marine. He served in the engine room as his ship made convoy runs to Europe. "The constant bombings were nerve-racking below decks," he recalled.

He quit in 1942 and enlisted in the Army. He was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division but shortly before D-Day broke his leg during a nighttime practice jump in Britain. "They sent me back to the States," he recalled in a 1988 Associated Press interview. "I was in a hospital for nearly a year."

A fellow soldier who had been an actor gave him a play to read and he was hooked. He recovered enough to take part in the Battle of the Bulge and, after the war, went to New York to pursue an acting career. He attended acting classes and did Tennessee Williams plays in repertory companies.

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'Twelve Angry Men' cast included (L-R) Jack Warden, E.G. Marshall,

Henry Fonda, Robert Webber and Jack Klugman

Warden moved on to appear in live TV shows such as the famed "Studio One." During the 1950s his career flourished. Besides TV work, he appeared on Broadway in shows such as Clifford Odets' "Golden Boy" and Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge." He had small roles in 1953's Oscar-winning "From Here to Eternity" and the submarine thriller "Run Silent, Run Deep."

Warden's breakthrough role was Juror No. 7, a salesman who wants a quick decision in a murder case, in 1957's "Twelve Angry Men." Over the years he had a number of recurring or starring TV roles as well. He was a major in "The Wackiest Ship in the Army" and the coach on "Mr. Peepers."

Warden played a coach again on the small-screen version of "The Bad News Bears." He portrayed detectives in numerous films and television series such as "Asphalt Jungle," "N.Y.P.D." and "Jigsaw John." He received an Emmy award for his role as a private investigator in "Crazy Like a Fox."

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In a scene from 'All the President's Men' are (L-R) Jack Warden, .....Jack Warden in 1976's 'All the President's Men'

Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford

Warden's numerous big-screen roles included a news editor in 1976's "All the President's Men," Paul Newman's law partner in 1982's "The Verdict" and the president in the 1979 Peter Sellers movie "Being There." He showed his comic talent in all the "Problem Child" films starring the late John Ritter.

Warden's later roles came in Woody Allen's 1994 "Bullets Over Broadway" and as Sandra Bullock's co-hort in 1995's "While You Were Sleeping." He played opposite pal Warren Beatty in 1998's political satire, "Bulworth" and co-starred with Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman in the 2000 football movie, "The Replacements."

Warden is survived by his longtime companion, Marucha Hinds; estranged wife, Vanda; a son, Christopher and two grandchildren.

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Prolific TV and Film Actor Jack Warden

by Valerie J. Nelson

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Jack Warden

LOS ANGELES, California -- Jack Warden, the gravel-voiced character actor and two-time Oscar nominee who appeared in over 150 feature films, died on Wednesday, July 19 in a New York hospital following several months of failing health. He was 85. His exact cause of death was not given by Warden's Los Angeles-based business manager, Sidney Pazoff.

Warden, who was living in Manhattan, first made his mark in the movies in 1957 as the sports-obsessed juror in "12 Angry Men." He received Academy Award nominations for his supporting work in two Warren Beatty vehicles, 1975's "Shampoo" and 1978's "Heaven Can Wait."

Warden, who won an Emmy award for his portrayal of crusty football coach George Halas in the 1971 television movie, "Brian's Song," had a small-screen resume that was just as deep as his film career. He had featured roles in a dozen series and appearances in about 100 shows and made-for-TV movies that stretched back to television's golden age.

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Jack Warden and a very young James Earl Jones in

the 'N.Y.P.D.' episode, 'Candy Man'

Just a sampling of Warden's television credits include 1952's "Mr. Peepers" on NBC, 1967's "N.Y.P.D." on ABC and 1976's "Jigsaw John" on NBC. He earned an Emmy award for his CBS series, "Crazy Like a Fox," hich ran from 1984-86.

From the moment Warden broke through on Broadway in 1955 in Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge," he said, he never stopped working. "I still panic sometimes when it comes down to 20 minutes between jobs," Warden told the Los Angeles Herald Examiner in 1984. "I love what I'm doing."

The gruff yet often engaging characters he became known for could have been lifted from his rough-and-tumble early life. At 17, the redhead from Newark, New Jersey, was a ranked professional middleweight boxer who billed himself as Johnny Costello

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