Legendary actor Eli Wallach has died at the age of 98

Jun 25, 2014 at 3:09 p.m. ET
Image: WENN

Longtime actor, honorary award winner and esteemed Hollywood personality Eli Wallach has died at 98.

After a long career and extensive credits alongside several of Hollywood's notable giants, Eli Wallach has passed away at the age of 98.

Appearing in legendary films such as The Misfits, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and The Godfather: Part III, Wallach was one of those longstanding stars who graced Hollywood through the decades. The veteran actor was well known for being seen alongside such greats as Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino and Clark Gable.

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Wallach also left a forever soft spot in fans' hearts when he made a memorable appearance costarring with Kate Winslet in 2006's The Holiday as her lovable aging neighbor.

Beginning with a less-than-famous life as the son of immigrant Polish parents in Brooklyn, New York, Wallach grew up Jewish in an Italian neighborhood. Not wanting to settle for the teacher's career his parents pushed on him, Wallach decided to seek studies at the Neighborhood Playhouse in Manhattan.

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Serving two years in the Army during World War II, Wallach returned home and began acting in Broadway plays and won a Tony Award for his work in Tennessee Williams' The Rose Tattoo. His movie career launched from there and the gravel-voiced actor went on to star in a slew of films and starred in several TV series, including the iconic 77 Sunset Strip.

In 2010, Wallach received a special honorary Oscar for his ample work history in Hollywood. "As an actor, I've played more bandits, thieves, warlords, molesters and Mafiosi than you could shake a stick at," he joked during his acceptance speech.

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When he was honored in New York two years earlier, Winslet addressed the crowd regarding her colleague and friend, saying that Wallach was her "very own Sexiest Man Alive."

Noting Wallach's wife, Anne Jackson, sitting in the audience with her husband, Winslet joked, "Truth is, Annie, if I had been around 60 years ago, you would have had some tough competition!"