R.I.P. Eli Wallach: 1915 – 2014

by     Posted 149 days ago

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Oscar, Tony, and Emmy-winner Eli Wallach has passed away at the age of 98.  Wallach, a Method actor who was an original member of the Actor’s Studio, was perhaps best known for his role as Tuco, aka ‘The ugly’, in The Good, the Bad and the UglySergio Leone‘s 1966 spaghetti western is one of my all-time favorite films, and Wallach is unforgettable in it.  He’s filthy, crass, unrefined, and absolutely charming.  His character has one of the best pieces of advice of any chatty killer: “When you have to shoot, shoot.  Don’t talk.”  It’s a line that perfectly sums up his character in the span of less than ten seconds.  He’s ruthless, unfair, and funny, and Wallach made the character feel real rather than contrived or exaggerated.

Hit the jump for more.

During his 65-year career, Wallach appeared in more than 80 films, numerous Broadway productions (he won a Tony for Tennessee WilliamsThe Rose Tattoo), and TV shows.  He earned an Emmy for his role in the TV film Poppies Are Also Flowers, and for our comic book fans, he also played Mr. Freeze in two episodes of the 1960s Batman series.  Finally, he received an Honorary Oscar in 2010 for “a lifetime’s worth of indelible screen characters.”  His last feature role was in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and even though it’s an odd performance, it’s a memorable one in a movie that is mostly forgettable.

Wallach may not be one of the most famous actors of all-time, and if you mention his name to a casual moviegoer, they might give you a blank stare.  But that doesn’t change the fact that he was a tremendous actor, and most people in his profession would love to have his longevity, drive, and recognition among peers.

Our deepest condolences go out to Mr. Wallach’s family and friends.

[Above photo credit: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times]

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  • Cedhollywood

    One of the best and most versatile. He brought his A game to just about every role. It should’ve been a requirement to have him in every movie.

    • Sweet Pea

      That may have resulted in some miscasting over the years to be fair.

  • GrimReaper07

    Can’t say I’ve ever seen him in anything except The Good the Bad and the Ugly but he killed it there and he was a charismatic and lovable man in interviews. Sad to hear about this.

    • Bo

      You might think of checking out The Magnificent Seven. He played the leader of the gang of Mexican bandits. He was great. He and his men capture the seven and because he respects them as men he lets them go…he gives them their guns back and lets them go. Of course, the seven can’t abide that and come back to face his men and are heavily outnumbered. They end up killing them all, natch, but as Wallach is dying he looks up to McQueen and Brynner. He just can’t believe they came back and have killed him. He looks at them bewilderedly and says (in that great Mexican accent) something like…”You came back. For these poor dirt farmers…? Why? Why?” Then he dies. It’s just one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen. I was in high school when the movie came out and of course my buddies and I were stoked by McQueen. But we also were stoked by Wallach all through the movie and especially by his death scene. Good stuff, man. Hope you check it out! (Hope I haven’t ruined the viewing experience for you with all my spoilers, but you’ll still like it I believe.)

      • disqus_SZyxitL7Y2

        @disqus_yyq0lnHEEt:disqus

        Man, that’s such a Dick move on your part. You tell the guy to watch a movie, and then basically give it away in its (almost) absolute entirety.

        Shame on you….

      • Bo

        I know…I know…you’re right, of course. I just got carried away and the film is 50 fucking years old for god’s sake! And it is the way my circle of old guys who’ve been in the film biz for a long time talk about movies so you’ll just have to live with it. Still, at least we’ve got guys like you to try to ‘shame’ us and keep us in line, but I shalt be shamed…that’s a horrible place to reside in or to place upon another for whatever perceived slight. I do hope you were being a bit ironic with the ‘shame on you’ bit. If not…well…shame on you!…lol…and best of luck to you and your duties of correcting others. Must make you feel a bit more powerful than you really are, eh? Sorry, but you asked for it by sticking your nose into my suggestions to another person and not to you….ugh! In other words it was none of you business!! Righto?

      • Bo

        I know…I know…you’re right, of course. I just got carried away and the film is 50 fucking years old for god’s sake! And it is the way my circle of old guys who’ve been in the film biz for a long time talk about movies so you’ll just have to live with it. Still, at least we’ve got guys like you to try to ‘shame’ us and keep us in line, but I shalt be shamed…that’s a horrible place to reside in or to place upon another for whatever perceived slight. I do hope you were being a bit ironic with the ‘shame on you’ bit. If not…well…shame on you!…lol…and best of luck to you and your duties of correcting others. Must make you feel a bit more powerful than you really are, eh? Sorry, but you asked for it by sticking your nose into my suggestions to another person and not to you….ugh! In other words it was none of you business!! Righto?

      • GrimReaper07

        Thanks for your comment though. Since his was so long I started reading yours and now I only know I have to see Magnificent Seven. I’d rather watch Seven Samurai first though.

      • Bo

        Well at least you’ve decided to watch the film even if in my excitement at a performance I’ve loved for like 50 yrs. might have devulged too much information. Don’t let that bother you. Excellent that you’ve also decided to watch Seven Samurai. They both are very, very good. Good luck and sorry if I’ve ruined your viewing pleasure in any way. At least somehow it has resulted in you realizing that you know you have to see Magnificent Seven so all is well…lol…

      • GrimReaper07

        Nono, you haven’t ruined anything thankfully because I read the other guy’s post before. It all ended up well and, as you said, its spoilers for a 50 year old movie. I’d still rather watch it not knowing how it ends and having watched Seven Samurai beforehand but I’ll still put it at the top of my list, specially cause I love westerns.

      • Bo

        Good, I’m glad. If you love westerns this is one of the best; along with The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid and Hombre. You might want to put those on your list as well. None-the-less, enjoy Wallach in Magnificent Seven. You’re in for a treat. However, be careful. As I’m sure you know, if you watch Seven Samurai first you’ll know even more about what happens in M. Seven. Also, it warms my heart to hear a younger guy who digs Westerns and is willing to look at movies that are 50 yrs. in the past. Excellent!

      • GrimReaper07

        I study cinema, of course I love films haha. I’ve still got hundreds of movies I’ve got to see but my thesis and tv series are sucking up a lot of my time. Every once in a while I manage to sneak a movie into the schedule though and I try to make them count. Last ones I saw were The Lego Movie and Slacker and I loved them both.

      • disqus_SZyxitL7Y2

        @disqus_yyq0lnHEEt:disqus

        Man, that’s such a Dick move on your part. You tell the guy to watch a movie, and then basically give it away in its (almost) absolute entirety.

        Shame on you….

    • Bo

      You might think of checking out The Magnificent Seven. He played the leader of the gang of Mexican bandits. He was great. He and his men capture the seven and because he respects them as men he lets them go…he gives them their guns back and lets them go. Of course, the seven can’t abide that and come back to face his men and are heavily outnumbered. They end up killing them all, natch, but as Wallach is dying he looks up to McQueen and Brynner. He just can’t believe they came back and have killed him. He looks at them bewilderedly and says (in that great Mexican accent) something like…”You came back. For these poor dirt farmers…? Why? Why?” Then he dies. It’s just one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen. I was in high school when the movie came out and of course my buddies and I were stoked by McQueen. But we also were stoked by Wallach all through the movie and especially by his death scene. Good stuff, man. Hope you check it out! (Hope I haven’t ruined the viewing experience for you with all my spoilers, but you’ll still like it I believe.)

  • Person

    His last role may have been Wall Street, but the last one I actually remember is Ghost Writer. Tremendous character actor who will probably always be remembered for GBU, not that that’s a bad film to be remembered for. RIP.

  • Delahunte

    Tuco was one of the great character creations. RIP kiddo.

  • Sweet Pea

    RIP. Great actor with true charisma.

  • doctor_robot

    the good, the bad and the ugly just would not have been as great as it is without this man. another fave with eli is baby doll. great stuff.

  • Fahad Ali

    RIP. Truly an amazing actor.

  • Hey…HEY!

    When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.

    R.I.P. Tuco

  • disqus_SZyxitL7Y2

    Also, he was so great in The Magnificent Seven. Played the out-and-out bad guy in an ensemble marvel of a movie. True Genius. To be honest, even though I’ve seen the forgetful Wall street II movie, the last I can remember of his true presence was in Eastwood directed Mystic River.

    RIP Tuco!

  • Jamie Teller

    Personally, I think he should’ve been Oscar-nominated (and probably won) for his film debut in Baby Doll. An incredible, incredibly assured performance, especially for a film debut.

  • Sean B

    Kind of an obscure movie, but if you want to see him in a brilliant role, check out “Tough Guys,” starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. Really funny, forgotten movie. It also had Charles Durning, Dana Carvey (in one of his first roles) and believe it or not the Red Hot Chili Peppers were briefly in it as well.

  • ilovethedeep

    Coffin, Goddammit, Coffin.

    RIP

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