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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 November 2006, 08:55 GMT
Veteran western star Palance dies
Jack Palance
Jack Palance was born in Pennsylvania of Ukrainian descent
Veteran American actor Jack Palance, who starred in the classic western Shane and the cowboy comedy City Slickers, has died aged 87.

His family were at his home in Montecito, California, when he died of natural causes, a spokesman said.

Born in Pennsylvania of Ukrainian descent, Palance won fame as a hard man in films such as Shane and Sudden Fear.

He turned to comedy in City Slickers, parodying his tough image and winning an Oscar for best supporting actor.

On receiving the accolade at the 1992 Academy Awards, he delighted the audience by performing a series of one-arm push-ups on the stage.

Evil gunslinger

Palance was born Vladimir Palahnuik in 1919, the son of a coal miner, and took up boxing in the 1930s.

He turned to acting after decorated service in the Second World War and made his film debut in 1950's Panic In The Streets.

He quickly received an Oscar nomination for Sudden Fear, and then achieved greater fame a year later, in 1953, playing evil gunslinger Jack Wilson in Shane, for which he received another Academy Award nomination.

Despite the accolades, Palance moved with his wife and three young children to Lausanne, Switzerland, at the height of his career.

He spent six years in Europe, but returned home complaining he was being offered "the same kind of roles I left Hollywood because of".

Nonetheless, he spent the majority of his career playing the bad guy, including roles as Dracula and mob boss Carl Grissom in Tim Burton's film adaptation of Batman.

The actor was often as tough off the screen as on, saying that most of his roles were "garbage" and most of his directors incompetent.

"Most of them shouldn't even be directing traffic," he said.

Palance is survived by his second wife and two daughters. A memorial service is planned for 16 December.

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