16 October 2013 2:10 PM, PDT | Moviefone | See recent Moviefone news »

John Rogers, Associated Press

Los Angeles (AP) - Veteran character actor Ed Lauter, whose long, angular face and stern bearing made him an instantly recognizable figure in scores of movies and TV shows during a career that stretched across five decades, died Wednesday. He was 74.

Lauter died of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer most commonly caused by asbestos exposure, said his publicist, Edward Lozzi.

Whether he was an irascible authority figure, a brutal thug or a conniving con man, Lauter's presence made him all but impossible to miss in any film he was in. That was so even on those occasions when he was playing a character more bumbling than menacing, although menacing was clearly his forte.

He was the brutal prison guard who was Burt Reynolds' nemesis in the 1974 comedy-drama "The Longest Yard" and the sleazy gas station attendant in Alfred Hitchcock's last film, "The Family Plot. »

- The Associated Press

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