Character actor Ed Lauter has passed away, aged 74.

The American star's publicist Edward Lozzi has confirmed that the actor passed away on Wednesday (October 16) after battling with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung.

Lauter has appeared in many high profile movies, including the 2011 Oscar-winning film, The Artist as Peppy Miller's chauffer.

He also played a sadistic prison guard in Burt Reynolds's classic 1974 movie The Longest Yard, and appeared in the 2005 remake with Adam Sandler.

Lauter had completed work on upcoming movies The Town That Dreaded Sundown and Blind Pass.

The actor has also starred in many TV shows, including ER, Shameless USA, Grey's Anatomy and The Office.

Lauter was also a popular stand-up comedian who did impressions of movie stars like James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart.

His work is to be honoured via a charity foundation by his family, while an annual scholarship fund will be awarded to aspiring young actors.