Beatty died early Sunday, in his Los Angeles home, surrounded by his family and loved ones, his manager Deborah Miller said in a statement to USA TODAY. Beatty’s family decided to keep further details of his death private at this time, according to the statement.
“Ned is an iconic, legendary talent, as well as a dear friend, and he will be missed by us all,” the statement read.
The Kentucky native broke into movies playing the genial vacationer Bobby Trippe, brutally raped by a backwoodsman in 1972′s “Deliverance,” starring Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight. The scene in which Trippe is brutalized became the most memorable in the movie, establishing Beatty as an actor whose name moviegoers may not have known but whose face they always recognized.
“For people like me, there’s a lot of ‘I know you! I know you! What have I seen you in?’” Beatty remarked to the Associated Press in 1992.
Beatty starred as corporate executive Arthur Jensen in 1976′s “Network,” receiving his one Oscar nomination.
In 1978, Beatty flipped the script to star in one of the most memorable roles of his career as the bumbling henchman Otis, alongside Gene Hackman’s Lex Luther, in “Superman.” Beatty also appeared in the 1980 sequel.
Other films included “All The President’s Men,” “The Front Page,” “Nashville,” and “The Big Easy.”
In a 1977 interview, he explained why he preferred being a supporting actor.
“Stars never want to throw the audience a curveball, but my great joy is throwing curveballs,” Beatty told AP. “Being a star cuts down on your effectiveness as an actor because you become an identifiable part of a product and somewhat predictable. You have to mind your P’s and Q’s and nurture your fans. But I like to surprise the audience, to do the unexpected.”
On television, Beatty was at his best as Det. Stanley “The Big Man” Bolander on NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Street” and for recurring roles in “Roseanne” as John Goodman’s father.
Beatty was born in Louisville in 1937. Beatty, who married Sandra Johnson in 1999, had eight children from three previous marriages.
Contributing: Bob Thomas, The Associated Press