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Children knew Burl Ives as the tubby, goateed folk singer who sang of the old lady who swallowed a fly and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Adults saw a darker side: the domineering Big Daddy in the movie "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."Elizabeth Taylor, who starred with Ives in the film version of "Cat," remembered him as a "great talent who possessed this wonderful teddy bear-like warmth.

"I felt so incredibly safe with him, especially after Mike Todd died," said Taylor, whose third husband died during filming. "I love him and I will miss him."

Ives died Friday at age 85. He suffered from mouth cancer and had slipped into a coma Wednesday at his home. Dorothy, his wife of 25 years, and her three children were with him.

Ives may be best known for his classic recordings of folk and children's songs including "The Blue Tail Fly," with the memorable chorus, "Jimmy crack corn and I don't care."

Elia Kazan cast him as Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" after running into him in New York City. Ives was sporting a pair of black eyes from getting into a fight the night before with an audience member who had jeered at one of his folk ballads.