Lew Palter, renowned for his role as Isidor Straus in James Cameron’s acclaimed film “Titanic” (1997), has passed away at the age of 94.
In addition to his acting career, which encompassed appearances in television series such as “Hill Street Blues” and “The Flying Nun,” as well as extensive work in theater, Palter was a dedicated acting teacher at CalArts in Santa Clarita, California.
Travis Preston, the dean of CalArts’ School of Theater, expressed his deep sadness in a statement to Fox News Digital, saying, “It is with great sadness that I share the news that longtime School of Theater faculty Lew Palter has passed away. Lew retired from CalArts in 2013, having served our community since 1971 as an acting teacher, director, and mentor. Lew 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. He had the utmost respect of his students and encouraged all to find truth in their work and lives.”
Preston further commented, “His career on the stage and screen was formidable, and he was a lifelong student of the theater. Alongside his many colleagues and collaborators, I always found him to be straightforward, thoughtful, and sincere. His legacy is carried forth in the many careers, lives, and stories he touched, and our collective CalArts thoughts are with his family, friends, and theater community who loved him so.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Palter’s daughter, Catherine, confirmed that he passed away on May 21 at his home in Los Angeles after battling lung cancer.
Throughout his illustrious career as an acting teacher, Palter had the privilege of instructing notable students such as Ed Harris, Don Cheadle, and Cecily Strong.
In a tribute to Palter, Cecily Strong referred to him as a “great teacher” who knew how to “live life well.” She expressed her gratitude, saying, “I got to brag that my teacher was the old guy in ‘Titanic’ that chose to stay in bed.”
Palter’s portrayal of Isidor Straus, a real-life former co-owner of Macy’s, left a lasting impression on the film. Though Straus’s role was small, his tender moment in the movie as he comforted his wife in bed while preparing for the ship’s sinking was emotionally poignant.
A deleted scene from the film depicted Palter as Straus urging his wife to board a lifeboat, to which she responded, both in the movie and according to historical accounts, “We’ve been together for 40 years, and where you go, I go. Don’t argue with me, Isidor. You know it does no good.”
Straus and his wife were among the wealthiest passengers aboard the Titanic. Despite his advanced age of 67, Straus refused to enter a lifeboat while there were still women, children, and younger men on the sinking ship. His wife, Ida, adamantly chose to stay by his side.
Notably, Straus is said to be an ancestor of Wendy Rush, the widow of OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, who tragically lost his life, along with four others, when their submersible imploded while descending to view the wreck of the Titanic on June 18. Wendy Rush is the great-great-granddaughter of the Straus family, as reported by the New York Times.
Lew Palter, born as Leon Louis Palter on November 3, 1928, graduated from Tufts University before obtaining his master’s degree from Alfred University. He later earned his Ph.D. in theater from Northwestern University. Pal
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