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Geoffrey Lewis, the likeable character actor best known for his work in Clint Eastwood films, died of natural causes on Tuesday at the age of 79. Beginning with his role in 1973’s High Plains Drifter and culminating in 1997’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Lewis and Eastwood collaborated on seven films. Their brotherly rapport is perhaps best exemplified by the pair of bare-knuckle brawler movies they made—Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can—in which the two men played best friends battling bikers, cops, and mobsters. There was never any doubt who the star was, but Lewis always made the most of what could’ve been a two-dimensional sidekick.
“I was very saddened by the news of Geoffrey’s passing,” said Clint Eastwood, in a statement. “I worked with him on many films and thought he was a wonderful actor and terrific performer. He had the most expressive face—which made working with him so fun. Geoffrey will be greatly missed.”
Lewis was the father of 10, including actress Juliette Lewis. Several of his other children work in Hollywood, including daughter Brandy, who married actor Ethan Suplee.
Lewis started his Hollywood career guest-starring in shows like Bonanza, Mannix, and Mission: Impossible. Shortly after starring in the western feature The Culpepper Cattle Co., he appeared in Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter, beginning the collaboration that would span three decades. They also worked together on Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Bronco Billy, and Pink Cadillac.