Character actor Ned Beatty of ‘Deliverance,’ ‘Network’ fame dead at 83

LOS ANGELES — Veteran character actor Ned Beatty died Sunday of natural causes at his Los Angeles home at the age of 83, his daughter Blossom Beatty confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

Beatty’s nearly 50-year career included memorable turns in such iconic films as “Network,” for which the Kentucky native earned a best supporting actor Oscar nomination, as well as “Nashville,” “All the President’s Men” and “Superman.”

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Beatty is best remembered, however, for his debut role as a “genial vacationer brutally raped by a backwoodsman” in 1972′s “Deliverance,” The Associated Press reported.

Beatty’s small but unforgettable role in “Network” birthed the famous line, “It’s because you’re on television, dummy.”

The New York Times described Beatty’s standout performance as the chief of the conglomerate that owns the film’s namesake network as a “folksy messiah, beautifully played by Ned Beatty, [who] is the mouthpiece for some of [Paddy] Chayefsky’s bluntest thoughts about the current state of the wealth of nations.”

Meanwhile, Beatty compiled quite the television resume as well, including guest shots on such shows as “Gunsmoke,” “The Rockford Files,” “Hawaii 5-0,” “Hunter” and “Delvecchio” in the mid-1970s. He also played the role of Rep. Leo Ryan, the San Francisco congressman who was gunned down by cult leader Jim Jones’ followers in 1978, in the made-for-TV “Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones,” Variety reported.

According to the outlet, esteemed film critic Roger Ebert called Beatty’s turn in “The Big Easy,” in which he played “the police chief who sincerely wants to do the right thing and sincerely cannot,” the actor’s " finest performance in years.”

Later in his career, Beatty returned to the small screen in the 1990s to portray the “acerbic” Det. Stanley “The Big Man” Bolander on the police drama “Homicide: Life on the Street,” Variety reported.

He returned to the stage and Broadway in 2003 to portray Big Daddy in a revival of Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” winning a Drama Desk Award, before touring for more than a year in a “Showboat” production, THR reported.

Beatty is survived by his wife, Sandy, and his children: Blossom, Doug, twins Charles and Lennis, Wally, Jon, Thomas and Dorothy, the outlet reported.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.