Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Eli Wallach 1915-2014

Actor Eli Wallach as passed away at the age of 98. 

Born in Brooklyn in 1915, Eli Wallach’s acting talents were discovered during his time in World War II, when he was asked to perform a show for soldiers recovering in hospitals. Upon returning home he studied acting at the famed Actors Studio alongside future greats Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. In 1945 he made his Broadway debut, and in 1951 won a Tony Award for his performance in THE ROSE TATTOO. His first feature film was in BABY DOLL (1956), for which he won the BAFTA for Most Promising Newcomer. 

Eli Wallach would live up to that award, as his career would span over six decades…appearing in classic films with Hollywood royalty. He appeared in THE MISFITS (1961) with Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960) with Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, LORD JIM (1965) with Peter O’Toole, HOW TO STEAL A MILLION (1966) with Audrey Hepburn, and THE GODFATHER PART III (1990) with Al Pacino. He was the “ugly” in Sergio Leone’s THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966), in which he forged a life-long friendship with Clint Eastwood. Wallach would later appear in Eastwood’s own Oscar-darling MYSTIC RIVER (2003). He worked and acted well into his nineties; appearing in Oliver Stone’s WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS and Roman Polanski’s THE GHOST WRITER, both in 2010. 

He was also an accomplished TV actor. He was one of three actors to play Mr. Freeze on the 1960’s BATMAN series, and won an Emmy for his role in the TV-film THE POPPY IS ALSO A FLOWER in 1967. He also had appearances in NBC’s STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP and LAW AND ORDER. 

He received an Honorary Academy Award at the 2nd Annual Governors Awards in 2010. 


This Blogger first discovered Eli Wallach from his role in THE GOOD, THE BAD AND UGLY, in which he went up against the imposing figure of Clint Eastwood and held his own. Over the years, Wallach was able to blend into a film so well, you often had to remind yourself; hey…that’s the ugly guy!
But ugliness was the very last word you could use to describe the spectacular career the man had. His resume of films reads like a list of Movie Legends, written in stone tables by fire. The career of Eli Wallach should be required viewing for all. 

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