Lew Palter, 'Titanic' actor and longtime CalArts teacher, dies at 94

Lew Palter, ‘Titanic’ actor and longtime CalArts teacher, dies at 94

Lew Palter, the veteran character actor and admired faculty member of the CalArts School of Theater who played department store magnate Isidor Straus in James Cameron Titanic, is dead. He was 94 years old.

Palter died on May 21 of lung cancer at his Los Angeles home, his daughter Catherine Palter said. The Hollywood Reporter.

The New York native played one of the Supreme Court justices First Monday of October (1981), starring Walter Matthau, Jill Clayburgh and Barnard Hughes, and wore a dressing gown for periods in The flying nun, Hill Street Blues AND Los Angeles law Also.

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Additionally, he played an LAPD detective in the 1976-77 CBS series Delvecchiowith Judd Hirsch.

Palter joined CalArts in 1971 and worked as a drama coach and principal at the Santa Clarita school until he retired in 2013, but has also conducted private workshops and taught throughout the country and around the world. world, including Edinburgh, Carnegie Mellon and UCLA.

“Lew loved the art of acting and taught his students to do the same. He encouraged deep curiosity, caring, intellect and humor in every scene, performance and lesson,” CalArts School of Theater dean Travis Preston said in a statement. “He had the utmost respect for his students and encouraged all to find the truth. in their work and in their lives”.

His thousands of students over the years included Ed Harris, Don Cheadle and Cecily Strong, whom he encouraged to try out for improv group The Groundlings on the way to his successful concert on Saturday night live.

“As a teacher, she seemed to have really changed people’s lives,” her daughter said.

Leon Louis Palter was born November 3, 1928. He graduated from Tufts University, then received his master’s degree from Alfred University and his Ph.D. in theater at Northwestern University. Meanwhile, he enlisted and served in the United States Army.

Palter acted in and directed off-Broadway plays before joining the Millbrook Playhouse in Mill Hall, Pennsylvania in the mid-1960s. She then made her screen debut in a 1967 episode of NBC Run for your life and appeared on It takes a thief, The Virginian, Gun smoke AND Mission Impossible before the decade was over.

In Titanic (1997), Palter as Isidor and Elsa Raven as his wife, Ida, they memorably appear in a montage hug each other on a bed in their cabin as the water rushes in and the ship’s string quartet plays the hymn “Near You My God.”

Isidor, co-owner of Macy’s with his brother, and Ida were two of the richest passengers to die on the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912. He refused to board a lifeboat when the ship was sinking because there were women who still had to get on one and his wife wouldn’t leave without him.

(Wendy Rush, the wife of Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate who died last week while piloting the imploded submersible during a dive to the wreck of the Titanic, is a great-granddaughter of the Strauses.)

Palter was the third actor in a tragedy film to play Isidor, after Roy Gordon in the film directed by Jean Negulesco Titanic (1953) and Meier Tzelniker in Roy Ward Baker’s A night to remember (1958).

His acting resume also included the 1971 film The Steagle and installments of Doris’ Show of the Day, Columbus, The Brady Group, Baretta, The Waltons, Cagney & Lacey AND The A team.

Palter also directed the play Peanuts for the Los Angeles Stage Company for years before it was adapted for the 1987 film starring and produced by Barbra Streisand.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include her grandchildren, Sam, Tessa and Miranda.

His wife of 64 years, actress Nancy Vawter, died in November 2020. Catherine Palter said her mother’s agent cast her for the part of Ida in Titanic but it was said that the producers were “looking for a different kind of actress”.