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Iconic actor, James Caan dies at the age of 82

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James Caan

Legendary actor, James Caan, who starred in films including “The Godfather,” “Elf” and “Misery,” has died at age 82.

“It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6,” read a statement posted to Caan’s Twitter Thursday., July 7.

“The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.”

The statement ended with the actor’s usually tweet sign-off, “End of tweet.” A cause of death has not been revealed. Over Caan’s six decades in the entertainment business, he starred in films including “El Dorado,” “Misery,” “Brian’s Song, “Bottle Rocket” and many more.

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Caan, who was born and raised in New York City, was a football star at Michigan State University before he transferred to Hofstra University where he took an interest in acting.

After a string of minor film and TV appearances, Caan achieved leading man status in 1965 in Howard Hawks’ stock car racing drama Red Line 7000, following it up with a role alongside John Wayne and Robert Mitchum in Hawks’ 1966 western El Dorado.

Caan was cast by a then-little-regarded Robert Altman in the 1967 space film Countdown, but his first significant association with the Hollywood new wave came with the 1969 film The Rain People, directed by Coppola, in which Caan played a hitchhiking former college football star who is picked up by Shirley Knight’s dissatisfied middle class housewife.

After playing the lead in a disappointing 1970 adaptation of John Updike’s celebrated novel Rabbit, Run, Caan achieved a major breakthrough with Coppola’s The Godfather. Caan originally auditioned for the role of Michael Corleone that eventually went to Al Pacino, and was favoured by the studio executives, but after Coppola insisted on Pacino, Caan was given another plum role, Corleone’s older brother Sonny.

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Caan received his only Oscar nomination, for best supporting actor, for the film, and his work remains notable for Sonny’s gruesome death scene, for which Caan said he was fitted with over 140 “squibs”, or explosive blood pellets, to simulate gunshot wounds.

Caan,  who was married four times throughout his life is survived by five children: “Hawaii Five-0” star Scott Caan, 45, James Caan, 26, Tara Caan, 57, Jacob Caan, 23, and Alexander Caan, 31.

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