Like many character actors, you probably would recognize Ed Lauter’s face almost immediately. Movie fans would likely recognize him from his recent appearance in “Trouble with the Curve.” Science Fiction fans would likely recognize Lauter from a guest appearance on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Commonly, people will remember him for his recurring role on “ER” as a fire department captain. According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com), Lauter appeared in more than 200 different roles in a career that spanned more than 40 years. He would have turned 75 today.
Sadly, news broke earlier this month that Ed Lauter died of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a dangerous form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. It is most often associated to exposure to asbestos because most people who develop this form of cancer had jobs that left them exposed to airborne asbestos fibers. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is usually a fatal disease.
News reports about Lauter’s death do not give any indication as to how he contracted the disease or as to how he was exposed to asbestos. However, his death demonstrates how many people are just now being affected by asbestos exposure, despite the fact that asbestos has been heavily regulated since the 1970s.
Millions of workers have worked in shipyards, power plants, steel mills and other industrial settings that led to asbestos exposure. Many more workers continue to be placed at risk in the construction and demolition industries. However, exposure to asbestos is not limited to just these high-risk professions.
Source: WCPO.com, “Character actor Ed Lauter, 74, dies of mesothelioma,” Oct. 17, 2013