In memoriam: Eli Wallach

News Niall Mcloughlin
25 Jun 2014 - 08:20

Eli Wallach, star of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, has sadly passed away at the age of 98.

We're sad to report that Eli Wallach, perhaps best known for his scintillating turn as the bandit Tuco in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly has sadly passed away.

A veteran of the stage as well as a master in front of the camera, Wallach amassed a fine collection of work that began all the way back in the 1940s when he made his Broadway debut. A lover of the stage, Wallach would star in a number of Broadway productions and was rewarded with a Tony Award in 1951 for his role in Tennessee Williams's play, The Rose Tattoo.

His versatility later saw Wallach move forward into film, making his debut in 1956 film Baby Doll, a role that would propel him to greater heights as he later starred in 1960's The Magnificent Seven, 1961's The Misfits and 1966's How To Steal A Million.

However, arguably his finest role came in Sergio Leone's spaghetti western, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. Playing the selfish bandit Tuco, his sheer presence, power and tenacity in front of the lens elevated the performances of Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef and left audiences with one of the greatest showdowns in cinematic history.

As well as starring in The Godfather: Part III, younger viewers may know Wallach from Nancy Meyers's 2006 romantic comedy The Holiday, where Wallach, starring alongside Kate Winslet, plays a disillusioned writer unsure of how his craft has become the way it has. The ease at which he plays the role is arguably the film's greatest strength. There were also later roles in Roman Polanski's 2009 film Ghost Writer, as well as Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010).

While never receiving an Academy Award, Wallach was awarded an honorary Oscar in November 2010, where was he was described as "the quintessential chameleon, effortlessly inhabiting a wide range of characters, while putting his inimitable stamp on every role".

There was a charisma and charm to Wallach's work, a trait that left a mark on audiences long after the credits rolled. He will be sorely missed.

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