Rod SteigerRodney Stephen Steiger (April 14, 1925 - July 9, 2002) was an American actor who was most famous for his Academy Award-winning role (playing against Sidney Poitier) as Sheriff Bill Gillespie in the 1967 film In the Heat of the Night. He appeared in over 100 films, including Academy Award-nominated roles in On the Waterfront (1954), The Pawnbroker (1965) and The Hurricane (1999). He turned down lead roles in Patton and The Godfather.
He was born in Westhampton, New York and saw service during World War II, running away from home aged sixteen to join the US Navy. After the war, he returned to New Jersey and joined a drama group before studying drama full-time under Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan at the Actors School.