'Titanic' Star Lew Palter Dead At 94, Following Lung Cancer Diagnosis

The actor famously appeared James Cameron’s Oscar-winning 1997 film.
Paramount Pictures

Titanic” star Lew Palter has died following a battle with lung cancer, his daughter has confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 94 years old.

The actor portrayed the retail magnate Isidor Straus in James Cameron’s Oscar-winning 1997 film and famously appeared in the heartbreaking scene in which he embraced his on-screen wife Ida (played by actress Elsa Raven) on a bed as water began to flood the ship.

Palter’s death comes after all five passengers aboard the OceanGate Titan submersible died after a catastrophic implosion during an expedition to the wreck.

His real-life character Isidor was the great-great-grandfather of Wendy Rush, whose husband, OceanGate chief executive Stockton Rush, was among those killed in the disaster earlier this month.

Before starring in “Titanic,” Palter appeared as one of the Supreme Court justices in the 1981 film “First Monday In October,” as well as portraying an LAPD detective on the CBS series “Delvecchio” in 1976.

Lew Palter as Isidor Straus with on-screen wife Ida (Elsa Rave) in Titanic
Lew Palter as Isidor Straus with on-screen wife Ida (Elsa Rave) in Titanic
Paramount Pictures/20th Century Fox

He also featured in the 1971 film “The Steagle” and episodes of “The Doris Day Show,” “Columbo,” “The Brady Bunch” and “The A-Team.”

On top of his impressive acting career, Palter served as an acting teacher, director, and mentor at the CalArts School of Theater for 42 years until his retirement in 2013.

Paying tribute to the late star, Travis Preston, dean of CalArts School of Theater, said: “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.

“His career on the stage and screen was formidable, and he was a lifelong student of the theatre. 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 theatre community who loved him so.”


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