Actor John Houseman, known for his Oscar-winning role as a crusty law school professor in the movie "The Paper Chase" and for a long career as a theater and movie producer, has died. He was 86.

Houseman died during the night at his home, said Ivan Goff, a family friend and Hollywood scriptwriter.The Romanian-born Houseman became a household name while in his 70s as Professor Charles W. Kingsfield in "The Paper Chase," a role he first played in the 1973 film and then in the television series.

He parlayed that fame and his distinctive speaking style into a lucrative series of commercial endorsements, including ads for the investment firm Smith, Barney.

But before that he was best known as a producer.

In 1937, he helped Orson Welles form the Mercury Theater in New York.

He was also involved in writing and producing shows for the Mercury Theater of the Air, the radio form of the troupe. It put on the epic 1938 "War of the Worlds" that created a nationwide panic just 50 years ago Sunday with its realistic portrayal of radio news coverage of a Martian landing.

Among his film production credits were "They Live By Night," 1948; "The Bad and the Beautiful," 1952; "Julius Caesar," 1953; and "Lust for Life," 1956.

He was born Jacques Haussmann in Bucharest, Romania, on Sept. 22, 1902. He came to the United States in 1924.