US actor Ben Gazzara, who enjoyed a long career on Broadway and in Hollywood, died of pancreatic cancer in Manhattan, the New York Times reported. He was 81.

Gazzara, who starred in films, television and on the stage played Brick in the original Broadway version of Tennessee Williams' "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof," originating a tough-guy persona that he would cultivate on the big screen.

In his later years he worked with the Coen brothers in "The Big Lebowski," in 1998, in the television series "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit," and more recently in many movies made for television.

Gazzara's lawyer told the Times that the actor died on Friday at a Manhattan hospital.