John Steiner, Actor in ‘Caligula,’ Dies at 81

John Steiner, a British actor who appeared in Tinto Brass’ Caligula and in other Italian films for directors Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava and Dario Argento, has died. He was 81.

Steiner died Sunday at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs from injuries suffered in a two-vehicle automobile accident in nearby La Quinta, the Riverside County Sheriff’s department told the Desert Sun newspaper.

The lanky Steiner played the treasurer Longinus opposite Malcolm McDowell as the depraved Roman emperor in the erotic Caligula (1979), one of several films he made with Brass.

For Fulci, he portrayed the tycoon Beauty Smith in White Fang (1973) and Challenge to White Fang (1974) and a bloodsucker in Dracula in the Provinces (1975). 

He also appeared in Bava’s Shock (1977) and Argento’s Tenebrae (1982), where his character took an ax to the head.

Born on Jan. 7, 1941, in Chester, England, Steiner attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. With the Royal Shakespeare Company, he worked alongside Ian Richardson on Broadway in 1965’s The Persecution and Assassination of Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade.

He reunited with director Peter Brook for the 1967 film adaptation of that play, then landed small roles in Stanley Donen‘s Bedazzled (1967) and Peter Hall’s Work Is a 4-Letter Word (1968), starring David Warner, before finding success in Italy.

Steiner left acting in the early 1990s and became a real estate agent in Beverly Hills, most recently for Engel & Völkers. An employee there confirmed his death.

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