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Oscar-Winning Actor Rod Steiger Dies - 2002-07-09

The actor Rod Steiger has died in Los Angeles at the age of 77. The veteran character actor won an Academy Award for his performance in the film In the Heat of the Night.

Rod Steiger portrayed a determined police chief in that 1967 tale of racial tension in the American south. He played opposite Sidney Poitier in an awkward pairing of a big-city black detective and a bigoted Southern lawman.

Born in Westhampton, New York, in 1925, Rod Steiger served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II. He later used his veteran's benefits to study drama. He was a member of Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio, whose other famous graduates include Marlon Brando. The two appeared together in the 1954 drama On the Waterfront, with Steiger playing Brando's brother.

In another notable performance, Steiger portrayed a Nazi concentration camp survivor in The Pawnbroker, a 1965 film by director Sidney Lumet.

Rod Steiger honed his acting skills in television drama and became an accomplished stage performer.

He had an unproductive period during the 1980s, when he suffered from depression for eight years. He was married and divorced four times and had two children.

Rod Steiger died in Los Angeles of pneumonia and kidney failure.