Yeah, we met Ed Lauter a few times. The actor often came back to New York City. He also spent a lot of time in bars–which you’d expect from a man who’d palled around with the likes of Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin. The guy had so many amazing stories that it’s hard to believe that Lauter didn’t start working as an actor until the ’70s. That’s when he began to pop up on detective shows like Mannix and Cannon.
The imposingly built tough guy also fit right in on the big screen. He started out with a series of seriously great ’70s sleepers. He teamed up with George C. Scott in the tough cop drama The New Centurions and the revenge flick Rage. Lauter was also in the underseen weird westerns Bad Company and Dirty Little Billy, and appeared in the surprisingly gritty Bill Cosby detective movie Hickey & Boggs.
That’s a stellar film career right there–and those were just the movies that Ed Lauter made in 1972. The guy really appealed to ambitious directors who needed a scary-looking guy with genuine talent. Lauter went on to the bizarre moonshine drama Lolly-Madonna XXX (his second pairing with Jeff Bridges), and really established himself as a sadistic prison guard in the 1974 football prison drama The Longest Yard. Ed had always worked steadily, but The Longest Yard was a big deal. (He showed up with Burt Reynolds in Adam Sandler’s remake.)
Ed would go on to work with Alfred Hitchcock in Family Plot, and director Michael Mann sought him out for the TV-movie The Jericho Mile. Modern audiences know him as the fire chief from ER, or maybe from the cable series Shameless, and a fun turn on the show Psych. He was Sam Stone, Sr. on an episode of The Office. That was pretty memorable, and it was a big kick to see Lauter as a butler in the Oscar-winning movie The Artist.
We’re going to miss seeing Ed Lauter. He passed away yesterday at the age of 74. He took a lot of great stories with him. But there’s a Youtube Channel called “Ed Lauter Tells A Story,” and it’s exactly what the name describes. You’d enjoy it more if you were drinking with Ed, but it’s too late for that. Still, check out this clip of Ed doing impressions. He was a funny guy, and–well, we were going to tell a story of our own, but what happens with Ed Lauter stays (and goes) with Ed Lauter…