Rod Steiger, the intense, serious-faced "method" actor who played the non-singing role of Jud Fry in the film, "Oklahoma!," and won an Academy Award for "In the Heat of the Night," has died of kidney failure and pneumonia at the age of 77, his publicist said.
Mr. Steiger not only played the heavy in the film version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, Oklahoma!, his song, "Lonely Room," was cut. His other film credits include "On the Waterfront," "The Pawnbroker" and "Doctor Zhivago," among many others. His "I coulda been a contender" scene in "On the Waterfront," with Marlon Brando, is legendary.
Mr. Steiger was born Rodney Stephen Steiger in Westhampton, Long Island. He attended high school in Newark, NJ, and studied at the Actors Studio. Among his contemporaries were Kim Stanley, Karl Malden, Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint and others, who stepped away from the declamatory, heightened Hollywood style of acting prominent before the 1950s.
Mr. Steiger's Broadway credits include Night Music, An Enemy of the People, Seagulls Over Sorrento, Rashomon and Moby Dick. The latter was the renowned 1962 production adapted by Orson Welles. His first stage appearance was in Curse You, Jack Dalton, at the Civic Repertory Theatre of Newark, in 1946.
His wives included Sally Gracie, Claire Bloom (his Rashomon co-star on Broadway in 1959, with whom he had a daughter), Sherry Nelson and Paula Ellis. Those marriages all ended in divorce. His wife, Joan Benedict, and daughter Anna (Bloom's daughter) and son Michael (Ellis' son) survive him.