Ned Beatty, ‘Network’ and ‘Superman’ Actor, Dies at 83
One of the most memorable screen presences of the 1970s and ’80s has died. Ned Beatty, a familiar face and talented actor, passed away on Sunday in Los Angeles. The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Beatty’s daughter, who said he died of natural causes. He was 83 years old.
Beatty — no relation to fellow Hollywood actor Warren Beatty — was born in Kentucky in 1937 and began working in local theater while he was still in his teens. His debut film was a doozy: John Boorman’s Deliverance, about a group of buddies from Atlanta who take a getaway into the woods and encounter unfriendly locals in the wilderness. The scene where Beatty’s character is assaulted by a man who demands he “squeal like a pig” passed into the wider lexicon.
Beatty quickly became a fixture in Hollywood all through the 1970s, appearing in films and television shows like White Lightning, Nashville, All the President’s Men, Exorcist II, Silver Streak, and Mikey and Nicky, and television shows like Kojak and The Rockford Files. In 1976, he earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for what was essentially a single-scene role in Network, as a man who lectures Peter Finch’s Howard Beale on the way corporations secretly rule the world.
Beatty continued working steadily in film and television for the next three decades. He played all sorts of roles. He was Dan Conner’s father on Roseanne, and a Baltimore police detective for three seasons of the critically acclaimed Homicide: Life on the Street. He reteamed with Deliverance’s Burt Reynolds on more than one occasion, and worked with director Richard Donner several times — including in one of his most famous parts, as Lex Luthor’s bumbling henchman Otis in 1978’s Superman and 1980’s Superman II.
Beatty is survived by a wife, eight children, and an incredible body of work that will be remembered for a very long time.