John Houseman, who nurtured young actors for decades before becoming an Oscar-winner himself in his 70s for his portrayal of a condescending law school professor in "The Paper Chase," was remembered as a gentleman and a professional.

Houseman, whose career in radio, theater, film and television spanned six decades, died Monday at his home after a long battle against spinal cancer. He was 86.Lindsay Wagner, who played Houseman's daughter in "The Paper Chase," called him "a total professional and a joy to work with. But what I enjoyed most was his tremendous wit."

Houseman spent decades behind the cameras, producing, directing and teaching at the Acting Company, which he founded.

Although he once decried American business, politics and entertainment as being in "an unbelievable slump of mediocrity, timidity and greed," his greatest fame and widest exposure came from a series of television commercials for the investment firm of Smith Barney.

Appearing and sounding the very essence of a solid, trustworthy uncle, Houseman ended each commercial with the line: "They make money the old-fashioned way. They EAAARNN it."

Houseman's cancer was diagnosed several months ago, and he had been bedridden for several weeks.