Eli Wallach, star of 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,' dies at 98
American actor Eli Wallach as Tuco in 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly', directed by Sergio Leone, 1966. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
WAINSCOTT, NY - JULY 22: Roberta Wallach and Eli Wallach attend the Hamptons Magazine Supports The Rickel Foundation Teaching Scholarship on July 22, 2012 in Wainscott, New York. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Hamptons Magazine)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 26: (Back row L-R) Robin Roberts, Meredith Vieira, Harry Belafonte, Matilda Cuomo, Charles Grodin and meteorologist Mr. G (Front row L-R) Eli Wallach and wife Anne Jackson attend the 'The Person Who Changed My Life: Prominent People Recall Their Mentors' book launch party at the New York Historical Society on January 26, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Anne Jackson and Eli Wallach (R) attend the 2011 Players Foundation for Theatre Education Hall of Fame Inductions at The Players Club on May 1, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
Actor Eli Wallach arrives at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
THE 83RD ACADEMY AWARDSÂ¨ - THEATRE - Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2010 were presented on Sunday, February 27, 2011, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live as 'The 83rd Annual Academy Awards' on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by A.M.P.A.S./ABC via Getty Images)KEVIN BROWNLOW, FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA, ELI WALLACH
Director Francis Ford Coppola (C) arrives with film historian Kevin Brownlow (L) and actor Eli Wallach (R) to receive the Governor's Award at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre late on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Actor Eli Wallach arrives at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)
Actors Anne Jackson (2nd from left), Eli Wallach (R) and guests attend the premiere of 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' at the Ziegfeld Theatre on September 20, 2010 in New York City.
NEW YORK - JUNE 15: Eli Wallach attends The National Arts Club dinner honoring Carroll Baker at The National Arts Club on June 15, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson during Gotham Magazine, Al Pacino and Sony Pictures Host the Premiere Party for 'The Merchant of Venice' - Premiere Arrivals at U/A Theater in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Carley Margolis/FilmMagic)
EASTHAMPTON, NY - AUGUST 21: Eli Wallach poses for a pictureduring the 56th Annual Artist and Writers Softball Game on August 21, 2004 in Easthampton, New York. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Actors Eli Wallach (2nd-L) Olympia Dukakis (3rd-L) and Bebe Neuwirth (3rd-R front) pose 20 August, 2002, with other actors after a rehersal to promote 'Brave New World' a play that will open on Broadway 09 September until 11 September and will provide artist a forum to reflect upon the events of September 11. The show at the Town Hall Theatre, will consist of four different one-time only performances. AFP PHOTO/Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 21: Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Actors Anne Jackson and her husband Eli Wallach in a scene from stock production of Twentieth Century. (Photo by Ray Fisher//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 17: Actors Eli Wallach and Ann Jackson posing for a portrait on May 17,1971 in New York, New York. (Photo by Santi Visalli/Getty Images)
Actor Eli Wallach on set of the movie 'Romance of a Horsethief' in 1971. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Actor Eli Wallach (L) and actor Oliver Tobias on set of the movie 'Romance of a Horsethief' in 1971. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Actor Oliver Tobias and actor Eli Wallach (R) on set of the movie 'Romance of a Horsethief' in 1971. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Eli Wallach hands gift to Stella Stevens in a scene from the film 'How To Save A Marriage And Ruin Your Life', 1968. (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)
Eli Wallach walking into club in a scene from the film 'The Tiger Makes Out', 1967. (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)
Eli Wallach looks up to discover a noose intended for his hanging in a scene from the film 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly', 1966. (Photo by United Artists/Getty Images)
Clint Eastwood as 'Blondie' and Eli Wallach as Tuco in the western 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly', 1966. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Clark Gable, Eli Wallach, and Montgomery Clift watch Marilyn Monroe play with paddle ball in a scene from the film 'The Misfits', 1961. (Photo by United Artists/Getty Images)
American actors Marilyn Monroe (1926 - 1962) and Eli Wallach during the location shoot of 'The Misfits' in the Nevada Desert, 1960. (Photo by Ernst Haas/Getty Images)
1960: American film actress Marilyn Monroe (1926 - 1962) between scenes on the set of 'The Misfits' with fellow actor Eli Wallach. (Photo by Ernst Haas/Ernst Haas/Getty Images)
SUNDAY SHOWCASE -- 'The Margaret Bourke White Story' Episode 116 -- Pictured: Photographer Margaret Bourke-White, actor Eli Wallach, actress Teresa Wright in December 1959 -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
SUNDAY SHOWCASE -- 'The Margaret Bourke White Story' Episode 116 -- Pictured: (l-r) Eli Wallach as Alfred Eisenstaedt, Teresa Wright as Margaret Bourke-White -- Photo by: Frank Carroll/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
American film and television character actor Eli Wallach, as Rafael, in the episode 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' of the series 'Playhouse 90,' February 28, 1959. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Gett Images)
Scenes from the motion picture Baby Doll starring Carroll Baker, and Eli Wallach. (Photo by Walter Daran//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
1956: American actors Eli Wallach and Carroll Baker stand together on the set of director Elia Kazan's film, 'Baby Doll' on location in Mississippi. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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By Bill Trott
WASHINGTON, June 25 (Reuters) - Eli Wallach, an early practitioner of method acting who made a lasting impression as the scuzzy bandit Tuco in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", died on Tuesday at the age of 98, the New York Times reported.
Wallach appeared on the big screen well into his 90s in Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer" and Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" sequel and other films.
"It's what I wanted to do all my life," Wallach said of his work in an interview in 2010.
Having grown up the son of Polish Jewish immigrants in an Italian-dominated neighborhood in New York, Wallach might have seemed an unlikely cowboy, but some of his best work was in Westerns.
Many critics thought his definitive role was Calvera, the flamboyant, sinister bandit chief in "The Magnificent Seven". Others preferred him in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" as Tuco, who was "the ugly", opposite Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's classic spaghetti Western.
Years later, Wallach said strangers would recognize him and start whistling the distinctive theme from the film.
Wallach graduated from the University of Texas, where he picked up the horseback-riding skills that would serve him well in later cowboy roles, and studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse Actors Studio before World War Two broke out.
DYNAMIC ACTOR, PROLIFIC CAREER
"Wallach is the quintessential chameleon, effortlessly inhabiting a wide range of characters, while putting his inimitable stamp on every role," the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gave him an honorary Oscar in 2010, wrote in a profile on its website.
After serving as an Army hospital administrator during the war, he found work on the New York stage and took classes at the Actor's Studio, which used Method acting in which actors draw on personal memories and emotions to flesh out a role.
He appeared in "This Property Is Condemned" and ended up marrying the show's leading lady, Anne Jackson - a marriage that also led to several stage and screen collaborations.
Wallach made a name on Broadway with roles in two Tennessee Williams' works, "Camino Real" and "The Rose Tattoo," for which he won a Tony in 1951, as well as a two-year run in "Mr. Roberts."
His first movie was another Williams work, "Baby Doll" in 1956. Other major films included "How the West Was Won", "Mystic River", "The Holiday", "Lord Jim" and "The Misfits" - in which he starred with Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe with John Huston directing an Arthur Miller script - and "The Godfather Part 3."
Despite the notable movies, Wallach said it was his portrayal of the villain Mr. Freeze on the "Batman" television show of the 1960s that generated the most fan mail.
Wallach titled his autobiography "The Good, the Bad and Me: In My Anecdotage". He and his wife lived in New York and had three children.
The New York Times said his death had been confirmed by his daughter.
(Reporting by Bill Trott in Washington; Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Andrew Heavens)