BY Lorri Wickenhauser, The Western JournalJune 27, 2023
1 year ago
 | June 27, 2023
1 year ago

'Titanic' Actor and Influential Industry Figure Dies at Age 94, Family Announces

Lew Palter, a Hollywood actor who appeared in "Titanic" and who was known for mentoring other performers, has died.

Palter died of lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles on May 21, his daughter, Catherine Palter, told The Hollywood Reporter. He was 94.

He was perhaps best known for portraying millionaire businessman Isidor Straus in the blockbuster 1997 drama "Titanic."

Many fans recall the haunting scene in which Palter's character embraces his wife Ida on the bed in the doomed couple's cabin as it fills with water while the ship sinks.

"Wendy Rush, the wife of Stockton Rush, the OceanGate CEO who died last week while piloting the submersible that imploded during a dive to the Titanic wreckage, is a great-great-granddaughter of the Strauses," according to the Reporter.

Palter appeared in many TV series across the decades, including "Columbo," "Kojak," "Charlie's Angels," "The Brady Bunch" and "Hill Street Blues," according to IMDb.

He was also a popular faculty member at the CalArts School of Theater, where he taught aspiring performers like Cecily Strong, who now stars on "Saturday Night Live."

In an Instagram tribute to Palter, Strong remembered him as a "great teacher."

“For so many years I got to brag that my teacher was the old guy in Titanic that chose to stay in bed,” she said.

"Lew knew how to live life well. How to teach students to be not only better actors but better people."

Palter joined the CalArts faculty in 1971 and continued there until retiring in 2013, teaching many other well-known actors such as Ed Harris and Don Cheadle as well as conducting workshops around the U.S. and overseas, according to the Reporter.

Travis Preston, dean of the CalArts School of Theater, said in a statement that Palter “loved the craft of acting and taught his students to do the same."

“He fostered deep curiosity, care, intellect, and humor in every scene, play, and class,” Preston said. “He had the utmost respect of his students and encouraged all to find truth in their work and lives."

“As a teacher, he seemed to have truly changed people’s lives,” his daughter Catherine said.

A native of New York, Palter attended Tufts University before obtaining a master's degree from Alfred University and a Ph.D. in theater from Northwestern University.

He began his career acting in and directing off-Broadway productions and started appearing on TV in the 1960s in such shows as "It Takes a Thief," "The Virginian," "Gunsmoke" and "Mission: Impossible."

He was also an Army veteran.

Palter and his wife, actress Nancy Vawter, were married for 64 years. Vawter died in 2020, according to the Reporter.

Survivors include his daughter and his grandchildren Sam, Tessa and Miranda.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: Lorri Wickenhauser, The Western Journal



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