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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Film world pays tribute to Steiger
Steiger holds his Oscar for In The Heat Of The Night
Steiger won an Oscar against an incredible field
Actors and directors are mourning the loss of the "quintessential actor" Rod Steiger, who has died aged 77.

Norman Jewison, who directed Steiger in his Oscar-winning performance in In The Heat of the Night opposite Sidney Poitier, called him "one of the most creative actors I ever worked with".

Coming less than a week after the death of ledgendary director John Frankenheimer, Jewison said: "It is as though we are losing the lions from the arena. Rod was a lion of a man."


Rod was one of the greatest actors of our time

Sylvester Stallone

Steiger died in hospital in Los Angeles after undergoing gall bladder surgery.

He found fame soon after launching his big screen career in 1951, and made more than 120 film appearances before his final role in 2001.

Jewison, who also directed Steiger in the 1978 Sylvester Stallone union drama FIST and one of his last major film performances in 1999's The Hurricane, said Steiger was the "anchor" in any movie.

'Gentle soul'

"I always tried to put him in every film I did because to me, he was like an anchor for the rest of the cast. He was so deeply committed."

Sidney Poitier, speaking to Daily Variety from the Bahamas, said his former co-star was a "quintessential actor" who unlike the role he played in "Heat of the Night" was "such a gentle soul".

"He will be remembered as one of America's great actors."

Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier acted alongside Steiger
Actress Ann-Margret, who appeared with Steiger in 2000's The Last Producer, said: "He was a wonderful man and a gifted actor. We shall miss him desperately."

Ray Bradbury, whose novel The Illustrated Man was made into a movie starring Steiger, said he would be missed as a "wonderfully creative actor and a very good friend".

Bradbury recalled he had been worried his friend might miss out on the Oscar for In the Heat of the Night.

Oscar memories

Steiger was up against an incredibly strong field - Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate, Warren Beatty for Bonnie and Clyde, and Spencer Tracy in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?.

"So I prepared a special champagne bottle with gold decorations and addressed it as my own Oscar," Bradbury said.

Steiger in On The Waterfront
On The Waterfront was a breakthrough
"I thanked God when he got on the stage and picked up his Oscar that he would have my bottle of champagne waiting at home as a double dividend."

"Rod was one of the greatest actors of our time," said Sylvester Stallone, who worked with Steiger in FIST and The Specialist.

"'The legend' is now legend, and I'll miss him," said Pierce Brosnan, who appeared alongside Steiger in Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!"


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