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Canadian actor Michael Sarrazin dies at 70

- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MONTREAL (AP) - Michael Sarrazin, the Canadian actor who rose to fame playing opposite big-screen legends like Paul Newman, Jane Fonda and George C. Scott, has died. He was 70 years old.

Sarrazin died Sunday in Montreal surrounded by family after a battle with cancer, said Michael Oscars, his agent and friend of 27 years, said Wednesday.

Born Jacques Michel Andre Sarrazin in Quebec City on May 22, 1940, he appeared in such films as "Sometimes a Great Notion," "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and "The Flim-Flam Man," among others.

He also starred in the popular 1973 TV miniseries "Frankenstein: The True Story."

Sarrazin was remembered by his brother Pierre for his "wicked sense of wit," but fans might recall his "soulful eyes."

Major stardom proved elusive. Sarrazin suffered a professional setback in 1969 when he had to give up the role of Joe Buck in "Midnight Cowboy."

The actor was on his way to Texas for a costume fitting when he found out his studio wouldn't release him from his contract, his brother said. He had to turn down a part that eventually went to Jon Voight.

"It was a very disappointing moment for him because the movie was wonderful," Pierre Sarrazin said. "Jon Voight's always been very gracious in mentioning that Michael had that role."

Sarrazin moved back to Montreal from Los Angeles a few years ago to be closer to his children.

Oscars, his agent, said the actor's daughters, Catherine and Michelle, were at his side when he died.

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