Rod Steiger dead at 77

Jul 09, 2002 by Ian Evans

Rod Steiger, who won an Oscar® for his performance as a redneck Southern police chief in In the Heat of the Night, died Tuesday at age 77. His death was due to pneumonia and kidney failure, which developed after his gallbladder was removed.

Besides In the Heat of the Night, Steiger was also well-known for his performance as Marlon Brando’s brother in 1954s On the Waterfront. While the film won seven Oscars®, Steiger had to settle for just being nominated.

He was nominated in 1965 for The Pawnbroker, where he played a Jew living a secluded life in Harlem, haunted by memories of his life in a Nazi camp.

His 1967 Oscar®-winning role in In the Heat of the Night was not to be his last collaboration with director Norman Jewison, who also directed him in 1978s F.I.S.T. and 1999s The Hurricane, which starred Denzel Washington.

“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,” Jewison said.