'The Big Lebowski' actor Jon Polito dies at 65

Actor Jon Polito, a favorite of writer/director team Joel and Ethan Coen, died Thursday in Duarte, Calif. He was 65.

His manager, Maryellen Mulcahy, told the Associated Press that he had been treated for multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that strikes the white blood cells.

The bald, mustachioed, raspy-voiced character actor antagonized Jeff Bridges in 1998's The Big Lebowski and starred in several other Coen projects like Barton Fink (1991), Miller's Crossing (1990) and The Man Who Wasn't There (2001.)

TV fans may remember him as Detective Steve Crosetti from NBC's critically acclaimed 1990s crime series Homicide: Life on the Street.  Polito was part of the cast for the show's first two seasons (13 episodes in total) before he fell out with producer Tom Fontana.

"Having me commit suicide is the one thing I asked Fontana not to do," an angry Polito told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1994 after learning how his character would be killed off. He had hoped Crosetti would die in the line of duty.

The Philadelphia native and Villanova alumnus tallied more than 100 films over his 35-year career, and continued working up to the end of his life, Mulcahy noted.

He had recently done roles on the TV series Modern Family and Major Crimes. His last film, The Maestro, is due out next year.

People with whom Polito worked remembered him fondly on Twitter.

"Tipping the High Hat to my dear friend Jon Polito, who taught me all (about) ETHICS & loyalty," said his Miller's Crossing co-star, Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden, referencing his character's famous line.

"Bless you, Jon! I loved every minute we worked together!" said Curtis Armstrong, who worked with him on the short-lived, 2001 sci-fi TV comedy The Chronicle.

He was survived by his partner, Darryl Armbruster.

Contributing: The Associated Press


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