Eli Wallach filmography and biography
Date of birth: 7 December 1915, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Eli Wallach biography
One of Hollywood's finest character / "Method" actors, Eli Wallach has
been in demand for over 50 years on stage and screen and has worked
alongside the biggest stars, including Clark Gable,
Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen (I), Marilyn Monroe,
Yul Brynner, 'Peter OToole (I), and Al Pacino, to
name but a few.
Wallach was born on 7 December 1915 in Brooklyn, NY, to Jewish parents who emigrated from Poland, and was one of the few Jewish kids in his mostly Italian neighborhood. He went on to graduate with a B.A. from the University of Texas in Austin, but gained his dramatic training with the Actors Studio and the Neighborhood Playhouse. He made his debut on Broadway in 1945, and won a Tony Award in 1951 for portraying Alvaro Mangiaco in the Tennessee Williams play "The Rose Tattoo".
Wallach made a strong screen debut in 1956 in the film version of the Tennessee Williams play Baby Doll, shined as "Dancer", the nattily dressed hitman, in director Don Siegel's film-noir classic The Lineup, and co-starred in the heist film Seven Thieves. Director John Sturges then cast Wallach as vicious Mexican bandit Calvera in The Magnificent Seven, the western adaptation of the Akira Kurosawa epic Shichinin no samurai. By all reports, Wallach could not ride a horse prior to making "TMS", but expert tutelage from the film's Mexican stunt riders made it look easy! He next appeared in the superb The Misfits, in the star-spangled western opus How the West Was Won, the underrated WW2 film The Victors, as a kidnapper in The Moon-Spinners, in the sea epic Lord Jim and in the romantic comedy How to Steal a Million.
Looking for a third lead actor in the final episode of the "Dollars Trilogy", Italian director Sergio Leone (I) cast the versatile Wallach as the lying, two-faced, money-hungry (but somehow lovable) bandit "Tuco" in the spectacular Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo. (aka "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly"), arguably his most memorable performance. Wallach kept busy throughout the remainder of the '60s and into the '70s with good roles in Mackennas Gold, Cinderella Liberty, Crazy Joe, The Deep and as Steve McQueen (I)'s bail buddy in The Hunter.
The 1980s was an interesting period for Wallach, as he was regularly cast as an aging doctor, a Mafia figure or an over-the-hill hitman, such as in The Executioner's Song (1982) (TV), Our Family Honor, Tough Guys, Nuts, The Two Jakes and as the candy-addicted "Don Altabello" in The Godfather: Part III. At 75+ years of age, Wallach's quality of work was still first class and into the 1990s and beyond, he has remained in demand. He lent fine support to Vendetta: Secrets of a Mafia Bride (1991) (TV), Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser Story (1992) (TV), Naked City: Justice with a Bullet (1998) (TV) and Keeping the Faith. Most recently Wallach showed up as a fast-talking liquor store owner in Mystic River and in the comedic drama King of the Corner.
In early 2005, Eli Wallach released his much anticipated autobiography, "The Good, The Bad And Me: In My Anecdotage", a wonderfully enjoyable read from one of the screen's most inventive and enduring actors.
Eli Wallach trivia
- Graduated from The University of Texas at Austin - BA 1936.
- Was almost killed during the train scene in Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo.. He was asked by Sergio Leone (I) to do the scene again, and he then replied: "I'll never do that again!"
- Turned down the role in From Here to Eternity that won Frank Sinatra an Oscar.
- Was trained at The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York.
- One of three actors to play the character of Mr. Freeze on Batman. (The other two were George Sanders (I) and Otto Preminger). He once said that he has received more fan mail for that role than for any other role he has ever done.
- Father of Peter Wallach, Katherine Wallach and Roberta Wallach (I).
- Was named as "King of Brooklyn" at the Welcome Back to Brooklyn Festival in 1998. His wife Anne Jackson (I) was named "Queen of Brooklyn" at the same festival.
- His performance as Alvaro Mangiacavallo in "The Rose Tattoo" opposite Maureen Stapleton as Serafina won him a Theatre World Award and the 1951 Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Play.
- Was credited with his first Broadway appearance in Harry Kleiner's "Skydrift" in 1945, the play in which Rita Moreno (I) made her Broadway debut. The play closed after seven performances. Also appeared as a soothsayer in Katharine Cornell's 1947 production of William Shakespeare (I)'s "Antony and Cleopatra." Other cast members in minor roles included Charlton Heston, Maureen Stapleton and Joseph Wiseman. Among the other Broadway plays he has appeared in are "Mr. Roberts," "The Rose Tattoo," "Camino Real," "The Teahouse of the August Moon," "Rhinoceros" and "Luv.".
- Appeared with Steve McQueen (I) in both his first major successful film (The Magnificent Seven) and in (The Hunter).
- One of his best known roles is the lead bandit Calvera in The Magnificent Seven. Although his character is eventually defeated in the film, he has outlived six of the seven stars, as Robert Vaughn (I) is the only one who is still alive as of 2009, despite the fact that he is older than all of them.
- He, his wife Anne Jackson (I) and their daughter, Roberta Wallach (I), have all made guest appearances in Law amp; Order in different episodes.
- In the Murder, She Wrote episode "A Good Year for Murder", he played a dying man, Salatore Gambini, who committed a murder because he had nothing to lose. In the Law amp; Order episode "The Working Stiff", he played a character, Simon Vilanis, who was suspected of committing a murder for the same reason although he ultimately proved to be innocent.
- Appeared with Steve McQueen (I), Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable in their final completed films: The Hunter and The Misfits (for both Monroe and Gable) respectively.
- Has a brother and two sisters, all of whom became teachers.
- He served for five years in the Army's Medical Administrative Corps during World War II, eventually attaining the rank of captain.
- He has three grandsons.
- There was no official theater department at the University of Texas when he attended, so he joined a student organization called The Curtain Club to put on plays. One of the other students involved was future Governor of Texas John Connally (I).
- In 1966, he starred in Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo. ("The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly") with Clint Eastwood. Thirty-seven years later, Eastwood directed Wallach in Mystic River.
- Is blind in the left eye due to a stroke.
- While attending The University of Texas he acted in many student plays and in one he costarred with Walter Cronkite.
- He has had two hip replacements and has arthritis in his back.
- One of his fellow students at Parsons New School for Social Research in New York was Marlon Brando.
- Turned down the lead role of Harry Berlin in Luv that was eventually played by Jack Lemmon (I).
- In an interview on "Fresh Air" (on station WHYY in Philadephia, Pennsylvania), he explained to Terry Gross (II) that he learned to ride horses at the University of Texas: He took care of the polo ponies. During the filming of the The Magnificent Seven, each morning he would ride a few hours with his gang.
- Was a friend of Walter Cronkite for over 70 years since they were both students at the University of Texas in Austin. Wallach was acknowledged at the Walter Cronkite memorial tribute at Lincoln Center and was in the audience.
Eli Wallach quotes
- The subtitle [of his memoir "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"] is 'In My Anecdotage.' 'Bill Clinton' asked me if he could use it, and I said: 'You sold two million copies of your book. How dare you try to steal my subtitle?'
- I was at the premiere of The Holiday a movie I did with Kate Winslet. Surrounded by all these beautiful young women. And after they left, [wife Ann Jackson comes up and says to me, 'Honestly, I don't know what they see in you.'