1. Rodney Stephen “Rod” Steiger was an American actor, noted for his portrayal of offbeat, often volatile and crazed characters.
2. His In the Heat of the Night performance won him the Academy Award for Best Actor.
3. Steiger was born in Westhampton, New York, the son of a vaudevillian.
4. He had a difficult childhood, with an alcoholic mother from whom he ran away at the age of 16.
5. After serving in the South Pacific Theater during World War II, he began his acting career with television roles in 1947, and went on to garner critical acclaim for his portrayal of the main character in the teleplay “Marty” .
6. He made his stage debut in 1946, in a production of Curse you, Jack Dalton! at the Civic Repertory Theatre of Newark, and subsequently appeared in productions such as An Enemy of the People .
7. In the Heat of the Night as they search for a killer.
8. The following year, he played a serial killer of many guises in No Way to Treat a Lady.
9. During the 1970s, Steiger increasingly turned to European productions in his search for more demanding roles.
10. One of his final roles was as judge H. Lee Sarokin in the prison drama The Hurricane , which reunited him with In the Heat of the Night director Norman Jewison.
11. Steiger was married five times, and had a daughter, opera singer Anna Steiger, and a son, Michael Steiger.
12. He died of pneumonia and complications from surgery for a gall bladder tumor on July 9, 2002, aged 77, in Los Angeles, and was survived by his fifth wife Joan Benedict Steiger.
13. Steiger was born on April 14, 1925 in Westhampton, New York, the son of Lorraine and Frederick Steiger, Rod was raised as a Lutheran.
14. Biographer Tom Hutchinson describes him as a “shadowy, fugitive figure”, one who “haunted” Rod throughout his life and was an “invisible presence and unseen influence”.