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Eli Wallach: Star of 'The Magnificent Seven' and 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' dies at 98

Prolific Spaghetti Western star was early pioneer of Method acting

Eli Wallach, who starred in films 'The Magnificent Seven', Sergio Leone's 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' and 'the Godfather Part III' has died at the age of 98.

One of the earliest practitioners of Method acting, Wallach's death was confirmed by his daughter Katherine, the New York Times reported. The circumstances of his death were not immediately known, and representatives for Wallach have not immediately return requests for comment.

Having grown up the son of Polish Jewish immigrants in an Italian-dominated neighborhood in New York, Wallach might have seemed like an unlikely cowboy, but some of his best work was in Westerns.

Many critics thought his definitive role was Calvera, the flamboyant, sinister bandit chief in “The Magnificent Seven.” Others preferred him in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” as Tuco, who was “the ugly,” opposite Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's classic “spaghetti Western.”


Years later, Wallach said strangers would recognize him and start whistling the distinctive theme from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”

Wallach, who was still making movies into his 90s, graduated from the University of Texas, where he picked up the horseback-riding skills that would serve him well in later cowboy roles, and studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse Actors Studio before World War Two broke out. (Reporting by Bill Trott in Washington; Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)