Jack Palance, who died of natural causes today at age 87, may have turned himself into a sly running joke in his later years, but for nearly five decades, he was one of the scariest men in movies. The rough-hewn virility so eminently on display when the 72-year-old did three one-armed push-ups at the 1992 Oscar ceremony was a hallmark of his lengthy gallery of movie villains, from the plague-infected thug he played in his first film, Elia Kazan’s Panic in the Streets (1950), to the crass movie producer he played in Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt (1963), to the cool crime-lord he played in Batman (1989). He often played black-hatted gunslingers in Westerns, most unforgettably in Shane (1953), which earned him the second of his Oscar nominations. He spent 40 years as a top character actor, assaying variations on that role, until his comic twist on the archetype in 1991’s City Slickers finally won him the gold – and a chance to celebrate with his memorable feat of calisthenics. The rest of his career may have been spent in a similarly self-parodic mode in forgettable movies, but Palance didn’t seem to care; he’d made his point and become a beloved national institution. Besides, it’s not like he ever had an illusion about his body of work. “I don’t see the movies I make. Most of them stink. What do I want to watch those for?” he once told EW. “I probably won’t read this article either – unless it’s really sweet.” You can still hear his menacing whisper, can’t you?
Posted November 10 2006 — 11:21 PM EST
- 'Wayward Pines' exec producer Chad Hodge's post-show dish: Why (SPOILER) had to die
- Casting Net: Gabrielle Union heading to Jamie Foxx action film 'Sleepless Night'
- 'The View' eyeing two new cohosts?
- 'The Help' director Tate Taylor to helm 'Girl on the Train'
- Pete Davidson live tweets his 'Harry Potter' marathon, gives 'dope as f---' review
- Reese Witherspoon as Tinker Bell: Disney developing 'Peter Pan' spinoff 'Tink'
- Molest claim vs. Josh Duggar; family says...
- Cannes 2015: What's buzzing in film and fashion (so far)
- 'Survivor': Meet 20 alums you picked for a 'Second Chance'
- Ellie Kemper, more faces of the 2015 Webby Awards
- Summer Music Preview 2015: 10 hottest tours
- Melissa McCarthy: Did you know she was in...?
- Taylor Schilling, Jessica Alba, Beyoncé & More!