Actor Ned Beatty, who starred in Deliverance and Superman, dies aged 83

Ned Beatty died on Sunday of natural causes at this home in Los Angeles surrounded by loved ones, his manager Deborah Miller said. Credit: AP

Ned Beatty, who starred in 1972 thriller film Deliverance, has died at the age of 83.

Deliverance was the actor's first film role and it launched him on a long and accomplished career.

Beatty died on Sunday of natural causes at this home in Los Angeles surrounded by loved ones, his manager Deborah Miller said.

After years in regional theatre, Beatty played Bobby Trippe in Deliverance, the happy-go-lucky member of a male river-boating party terrorised by thugs.

The scene in which Trippe is brutally attacked became the most memorable in the movie. It established Beatty as an actor whose face people always recognised.

“For people like me, there’s a lot of ‘I know you! I know you! What have I seen you in?’” Beatty remarked in 1992.

Ned Beatty in 2007 Credit: Gus Ruelas/AP

Despite receiving just one Oscar nomination, as supporting actor for his role as corporate executive Arthur Jensen in 1976′s Network, Beatty appeared in some of the most popular movies of his time. He has worked in more than 150 movies and TV shows.

He was also memorable as Otis, the idiot henchman of villain Lex Luther in the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies and as the racist sheriff in White Lightning.

Other films he appeared in included All The President’s Men, The Front Page, Nashville, and The Big Easy.

His more recent films include Toy Story 3 in 2010 and movies in 2013, The Big Ask and Baggage Claim. He retired soon after.

Beatty was born in 1937 in Louisville, Kentucky, and raised in Lexington.

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He joined the Protestant Disciples of Christ Christian Church in Lexington. He had considered becoming a priest, but changed his mind after he was cast in a high school production of Harvey.

“It was the theatre I attended as a kid,” he told The Associated Press in 1992. “It was where people got down to their truest emotions and talked about things they didn’t talk about in everyday life. The preaching was very often theatrical.”

He began his career in film acting when he took a train to New York to audition for director John Boorman for the role of Bobby Trippe. Boorman told him the role was cast, but changed his mind after seeing Beatty audition.

Beatty married Sandra Johnson in 1999 and had eight children from three previous marriages.

In a 1977 interview, he had explained why he preferred being a supporting actor.

He said: “Stars never want to throw the audience a curveball, but my great joy is throwing curveballs.

“Being a star cuts down on your effectiveness as an actor because you become an identifiable part of a product and somewhat predictable. You have to mind your Ps and Qs and nurture your fans. But I like to surprise the audience, to do the unexpected.”

Beatty continued working in theatre throughout his life and also worked in TV.

He had recurring roles in Roseanne as John Goodman’s father and as a detective on Homicide: Life On The Streets.

On Broadway, he won critical praise and a Drama Desk Award for his portrayal of Big Daddy in a revival of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.