( b. Dec 07, 1915 Brooklyn, New York, USA - d. Jun 24, 2014 New York, New York, USA ) Male
Eli Wallach was one of his generation’s most prominent and prolific character actors in film, onstage and on television for more than 60 years.
A self-styled journeyman actor, the versatile Mr. Wallach appeared in scores of roles, often with his wife, Anne Jackson. No matter the part, he always seemed at ease and in control.
Eli Wallach was born the son of Abraham Wallach and the former Bertha Schorr. He graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn and attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he also learned to ride horses — a skill he would put to good use in westerns. After graduation he returned to New York and earned a master’s degree in education at City College, with the intention of becoming a teacher like his brother and two sisters.
Instead, he studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse until World War II put him in the Army. He served five years in the Medical Corps, rising to captain. After the war he became a founding member of the Actors Studio and studied method acting with Lee Strasberg. Ahead lay his Broadway debut in Skydrift, which had a one-week run in 1945, and his fateful meeting with an actress named Anne Jackson.
Mr. Wallach, who as a boy was one of the few Jewish children in his mostly Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn, made both his stage and screen breakthroughs playing Italians. In 1951, six years after his Broadway debut in a play called Skydrift, he was cast opposite Maureen Stapleton in Tennessee Williams’s The Rose Tatoo playing Alvaro Mangiacavallo, a truck driver who woos and wins Serafina Delle Rose, a Sicilian widow living on the Gulf Coast. Both Ms. Stapleton and Mr. Wallach won Tony Awards for their work in the play.
After The Rose Tattoo he appeared in another Williams play, Camino Real (1953), wandering a fantasy world as a young man named Kilroy. He also played opposite Julie Harris in Anouilh’s Mademoiselle Colombe (1954), about a young woman who chooses a life in the theater over life with her dour husband, and in 1958 he appeared with Joan Plowright in The Chairs, Eugène Ionesco’s farcical portrait of an elderly couple’s garrulous farewell to life.
Mr. Wallach’s many television credits including a 1974 production of Odets’s “Paradise Lost” on public television, and “Sokie”.
And then there were films, dozens of them. In addition to his parts in “Baby Doll” and “The Magnificent Seven,” he played the mechanic pal of Clark Gable’s aging cowboy in “The Misfits” (1961), the story of a wild-horse roundup in Nevada, written by Miller and directed by John Huston, with a cast that also included Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.
Despite his many years of film work, some of it critically acclaimed, Mr. Wallach was never nominated for an Academy Award. But in November 2010, less than a month before his 95th birthday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded him an honorary Oscar. The first movie in which Mr. Wallach acted was also written by Williams: “Baby Doll” (1956). Mr. Wallach played Silva Vacarro, a Sicilian émigré and the owner of a cotton gin that he believes has been torched. Karl Malden and Carroll Baker also starred.
The theater remained his home base, and he said that he could never imagine leaving it. “What else am I going to do?” he asked in an interview with The Times in 1997. “I love to act.”
Source: The New York Times
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