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Oscar-nominated actor Stuart Whitman dead at 92

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Stuart Whitman, a prolific lead and character actor who appeared in hundreds of film and television productions and received an Oscar nomination as a pedophile in the 1961 drama “The Mark,” has died.

Whitman died Monday in Montecito, California, at age 92. Son Justin Whitman said that he died of natural causes.

Dark-haired and rugged, with enough of a resemblance to Clark Gable that he was sometimes compared to the “Gone With the Wind” star, Whitman was a steady presence in Westerns, war movies and other action films. His credits included “The Longest Day,” “Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines,” “The Sound and the Fury” and “Ten North Frederick.” On television, he starred in the brief-lived series “Cimarron Strip” and also worked on “Murder, She Wrote,” “The Streets of San Francisco" and “The F.B.I.”

His greatest acclaim came for “The Mark,” although he was not the original choice for his role: Richard Burton dropped out at the last minute. The film also starred Rod Steiger and Maria Schell.

Whitman was a San Francisco native who had wanted to act since childhood. He started out as a Hollywood extra, appearing without credit “In the Day the Earth Stood Still,” “Brigadoon" and other movies. In a 1961 interview with the Los Angeles Times, he placed himself in the tradition of actors who relied less on versatility than on an established persona.

“It's the image that makes a star. John Wayne is a great example of a super actor. Gary Cooper is another one,” he said. “My image? I think it's being free and easy and all man. I say to myself I want to become an actor, I want to lose myself in each role. But that's not the way to become an actor.”