Ben Gazzara

Actor, Director, Screenwriter
Branded the toast of Broadway for his incendiary performances in such theatrical milestones of the 1950s as Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and Michael V. Gazzo's "A Hatful of Rain," Ben Gazzara came a long ... Read more »
Born: 08/27/1930 in New York, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (116)

...and Quiet Flows the Don 2014 (Movie)

General Sekzetov (Actor)

Risate di Gioia 2014 (Movie)

Lello (Actor)

13 2011 (Movie)

Schlondorff (Actor)

Gazzara 2011 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Looking for Palladin 2009 (Movie)

Jack Palladin (Actor)

AFI's 100 Years...AFI's 10 Top 10 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

Empire State Building Murders 2008 (Movie)

(Actor)

Paris, I Love You 2007 (Movie)

("Quartier Latin") (Actor)

Pope John Paul II 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

Bonjour Michel 2005 (Movie)

(Actor)

Dogville 2004 (Movie)

Jack McKay (Actor)

The Shore 2004 (Movie)

(Actor)

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 2001 (Tv Show)

Actor

Too Tired to Die 2001 (Movie)

John Sage (Actor)

Anything For John 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Blue Moon 2000 (Movie)

Frank (Actor)

Very Mean Men 2000 (Movie)

Gino Minetti (Actor)

Home Sweet Hoboken 1999 (Movie)

(Actor)

Illuminata 1999 (Movie)

Old Flavio (Actor)

Never Love a Thief 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Shark in a Bottle 1999 (Movie)

(Actor)

Summer of Sam 1999 (Movie)

Luigi (Actor)

The List (Moonstone Entertainment) 1999 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Thomas Crown Affair 1999 (Movie)

Andrew Wallace (Actor)

Undertaker's Paradise 1999 (Movie)

Jim (Actor)

Believe 1998 (Movie)

Elliott Winslowe (Actor)

Buffalo '66 1998 (Movie)

Jimmy Brown (Actor)

Happiness 1998 (Movie)

Lenny Jordan (Actor)

Lee Strasberg: The Method Man 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The Big Lebowski 1998 (Movie)

Jackie Treehorn (Actor)

The Spanish Prisoner 1998 (Movie)

Joe Klein (Actor)

Valentine's Day 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Farmer and Chase 1997 (Movie)

Farmer (Actor)

Lady Killer 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Paleoworld 1994 - 1997 (TV Show)

Narrator

The Shadow Conspiracy 1997 (Movie)

Vice President Saxon (Actor)

Vicious Circles 1997 (Movie)

(Actor)

Scene of the Crime 1996 (Movie)

Lieutenant Jack Lasky (Actor)

Strangers 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Fatal Vows: The Alexandra O'Hara Story 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

The Dogfighters 1995 (Movie)

(Actor)

Banditi 1994 (Movie)

Amos (Actor)

Blindsided 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Nefertiti: The Daughter of the Sun 1993 (Movie)

Pharaoh Amenophis III (Actor)

Swallows Never Die in Jerusalem 1993 (Movie)

Moshe (Actor)

Els de Devant 1992 (Movie)

John (Actor)

Forever 1990 (Movie)

Marcelo Rondi (Actor)

John Cassavetes 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

People Like Us 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Beyond the Ocean 1989 (Movie)

John (Actor)

Quicker Than the Eye 1989 (Movie)

Ben Norell (Actor)

Road House 1989 (Movie)

Brad Wesley (Actor)

Control 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Secret Obsession 1987 (Movie)

Paul (Actor)

A Letter to Three Wives 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Il Camorrista 1985 (Movie)

The Professor (Actor)

On Top All Over the World 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Hollywood's Most Sensational Mysteries 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

La Donna Delle Meraviglie 1984 (Movie)

Alberto (Actor)

My Dearest Son 1984 (Movie)

(Actor)

Tales of Ordinary Madness 1983 (Movie)

Charles Serking (Actor)

Uno Scandalo Perbene 1983 (Movie)

Amnesiac (Actor)

La Ragazza di Trieste 1982 (Movie)

Dino Romero (Actor)

Inchon 1981 (Movie)

Major Frank Hallsworth (Actor)

They All Laughed 1981 (Movie)

John Russo (Actor)

Bloodline 1979 (Movie)

Rhys Williams (Actor)

Opening Night 1979 (Movie)

Manny Victor (Actor)

Saint Jack 1979 (Movie)

Jack Flowers (Actor)

High Velocity 1977 (Movie)

Clifford Baumgartner (Actor)

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie 1976 (Movie)

Cosmo Vitelli (Actor)

Voyage of the Damned 1976 (Movie)

Morris Troper--European Head of Jewish Agency (Actor)

Capone 1975 (Movie)

Al Capone (Actor)

The General 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Narrator

Maneater 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

Pursuit 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

The Neptune Factor 1972 (Movie)

Commander Blake (Actor)

When Michael Calls 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)

Actor

The Sicilian Connection 1971 (Movie)

(Actor)

Husbands 1970 (Movie)

Harry (Actor)

King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis 1970 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium 1969 (Movie)

Card Player (Actor)

The Bridge at Remagen 1969 (Movie)

Sgt Angelo (Actor)

The Big Mouth 1966 (Movie)

(Actor)

Arrest and Trial 1963 - 1965 (TV Show)

Actor

Rapture at Two-Forty 1964 - 1965 (TV Show)

Actor

A Rage to Live 1964 (Movie)

Roger Bannon (Actor)

Convicts Four 1961 (Movie)

John Resko (Actor)

DuPont Show of the Month 1957 - 1961 (TV Show)

Actor

The Captive City 1961 (Movie)

Capt Stubbs (Actor)

The Young Doctors 1961 (Movie)

Dr David Coleman (Actor)

Anatomy of a Murder 1959 (Movie)

Lieutenant Frederick Manion (Actor)

The Strange One 1957 (Movie)

Jocko DeParis (Actor)

A Question of Honor (TV Show)

Actor

An Early Frost (TV Show)

Actor

Blindsided (Movie)

Ira Gold (Actor)

Brian's Song (TV Show)

Actor

Convict Cowboy (TV Show)

Actor

Downpayment on Murder (TV Show)

Actor

Fireball Forward (TV Show)

Actor

Hysterical Blindness (TV Show)

Actor

Lies Before Kisses (TV Show)

Actor

Parallel Lives (TV Show)

Actor

Pursuit (Movie)

Steven Graves (Actor)

Qb VII (TV Show)

Actor

Run For Your Life (TV Show)

Actor

Stag (TV Show)

Actor

Star Tour Australia (TV Show)

Actor

The Death of Richie (TV Show)

Actor

The Family Rico (TV Show)

Actor

The Web (TV Show)

Actor
Director (3)

Beyond the Ocean 1989 (Movie)

(Director)

Columbo 1971 - 1978 (Tv Show)

Director

The Name of the Game 1968 - 1978 (Tv Show)

Director
Writer (1)

Beyond the Ocean 1989 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Biography

Branded the toast of Broadway for his incendiary performances in such theatrical milestones of the 1950s as Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and Michael V. Gazzo's "A Hatful of Rain," Ben Gazzara came a long way from his upbringing in Manhattan's Gashouse District during the Great Depression, becoming in the course of only a few years of his burgeoning career, the nation's preeminent Italian-American actor, 20 years ahead of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. After making an indelible impression in Otto Preminger's "Anatomy of a Murder" (1959), he was resigned to the middling career of a jobbing actor through the Sixties, until the following decade, when his craft was revived through a partnership with filmmaker John Cassavetes on the controversial films "Husbands" (1970) and "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" (1976). He would go on to impress audiences with his roles in "Capone" (1975), "They All Laughed" (1981), "Buffalo '66" (1998) and "Dogville" (2003). Rediscovered at the turn of the century by a new generation of indie filmmakers, Gazzara remained an in-demand character actor and a surviving link to both the Golden Age of Broadway and live television and the birth of the American independent film movement.

Relationships

Angelina Cusumano Gazzara

Mother
Sicilian immigrant Met husband in NYC

Louise Erikson

Wife
Met at the Dramatic Workshop in Midtown Manhattan Married in 1951 Divorced in 1957

Antonio Gazzara

Father
Sicilian immigrant Met wife in NYC

Elizabeth Gazzara Editor

Daughter

Danja Gazzara Editor

Daughter
Mother, Elke Stuckmann; Gazzara adopted her

Anthony Gazzara

Brother

Audrey Hepburn Actor

Companion
Met while filming "Bloodline" in 1979 Co-starred in romantic comedy "They All Laughed" (1981)

Janice Rule Actor

Wife
Married on Nov. 25, 1961 Marriage ended in 1979 after Gazzara met German model Elke Stuckmann (whom he later married) Divorced on Jan. 28, 1982

Elaine Stritch Actor

Companion
Had relationship in the 1950s

Elke Stuckmann

Wife
Met in Seoul, Korea during the filming of "Inchon" (1981) Married Feb. 27, 1982 until Gazzara's death on Feb. 3, 2012

EDUCATION

Dramatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research

New York , New York 1949 - 1951
Workshop headed by Erwin Piscator

Stuyvesant High School

New York , New York

School of Our Lady of Scapula

New York , New York

Actors Studio

New York , New York
Member since 1951

City College of New York

New York , New York
Dropped out

Milestones

2011

Acted in the foreign-produced films "RIstabbanna" (Italy) and "Chez Gino" (France)

2010

Joined an all star cast including Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, and Michael Shannon in drama thriller "13"

2008

Co-starred with David Moscow and Talia Shire in the comedy "Looking for Palladin"

2006

Directed by Gérard Depardieu and acted with Rowlands in the "Quartier Latin" segment of the anthology film "Paris, je t'aime"

2005

Portrayed Italian priest turned Cardinal Secretary of State Agostino Casaroli in the CBS miniseries "Pope John Paul II"; Voight played the titular Pope

2004

Cast in Lars von Trier's experimental drama "Dogville" alongside Nicole Kidman and Lauren Bacall

2003

Co-starred with Rowlands and Uma Thurman in Mira Nair directed "Hysterical Blindness" (HBO)

2003

Toured the country with one-man show about Yogi Berra titled "Nobody Don’t Like Yogi"

2001

Cast as Coach Halas in the ABC remake of "Brian's Song"

1999

Appeared in Spike Lee's crime drama "Summer of Sam"

1998

Played the father of Vincent Gallo's character in "Buffalo 66"; Gallo reportedly cast him based on his moving performance in the 1977 TV-movie "The Death of Richie"

1998

Portrayed a pornographer in the Coen Brothers' cult film "The Big Lebowski"

1998

Acted the role of a disgruntled husband who decides to chuck 40 years of marriage in Todd Solondz's "Happiness"

1998

Played a famous artist squiring a much younger Korean girlfriend in Wonsuk Chin's "Too Tired to Die"

1997

Landed featured role in David Mamet's "The Spanish Prisoner"

1997

Acted in straight-to-video release "Scene of the Crime" as police lieutenant Jack Lasky

1995

Played the Warden in Western prison drama "Convict Cowboy" (Showtime), starring Jon Voight

1994

Returned to the NY stage in "Chinese Coffee"

1993

Portrayed Mafia boss Joseph Bonanno in TV-movie "Love, Honor and Obey: The Last Mafia Marriage" (NBC), based on the book by Rosalie Bonanno

1992

Appeared in the short-lived Broadway play "Shimada"

1990

Feature directorial debut, "Beyond the Ocean"; also co-wrote screenplay

1989

Acted the part of the evil and eccentric town patriarch in "Road House"

1987

Played Captain Tom Wright in the NBC movie "Police Story: The Freeway Killings"

1985

Received an Emmy nomination as Rowlands' husband in the NBC TV-movie "An Early Frost"

1981

Reteamed with Hepburn in Bogdanovich's "They All Laughed"; film bombed at the box office

1981

Acted in Italian movies ("Tales of Ordinary Madness," 1981; "The Girl from Trieste," 1982; "Uno Scandalo Perbene," 1984; "Il proessore, Il Camorrista," 1985)

1979

Played title role of an American who operates a brothel in Singapore in Peter Bogdanovich's drama "Saint Jack"

1979

Starred opposite Audrey Hepburn in the disappointing "Bloodline"

1977

Portrayed the father of a drug-addicted teenager (Robby Benson) in NBC movie "The Death of Richie"

1977

Tried to get a psychologically fraught Gena Rowlands back on stage in Cassavetes' "Opening Night"; Falk also in cast; film received a limited release in Los Angeles

1976

Headed the Jewish agency trying to find sanctuary for the German Jews aboard the St. Louis in Stuart Rosenberg's "Voyage of the Damned"; Rosenberg previously directed episodes of "Run for Your Life"

1976

Reteamed with Cassavetes for "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie"; played a strip-club owner in debt to the mob

1976

Starred opposite Colleen Dewhurst in the Broadway revival of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"; received Tony nomination

1975

Essayed the title role of "Capone," which featured Cassavetes as an actor

1974

Starred opposite Anthony Hopkins in the ABC miniseries "QB VII" (based on the Leon Uris novel) as a writer being sued for libel for what he wrote about a Polish doctor at Auschwitz

1974

Directed episodes of "Columbo" (NBC), starring Falk as the titular detective

1974

Received second Tony nomination for his work in "Hughie" and "Duet"

1972

TV-movie debut, "When Michael Calls" (ABC)

1972

Played crime syndicate chief Eddie Rico in CBS movie "The Family Rico," adapted from the novel The Brothers Rico by Georges Simenon

1969

First collaboration with Cassavetes as director, "Husbands"; co-starred with Peter Falk as unhappily married men out for a drunken night on the town

1968

Made cameo appearance with John Cassavetes as card players in "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium"

1965

Starred as the terminally ill Paul Bryan and directed episodes of "Run for Your Life" (NBC); earned two Emmy nominations as Lead Actor in a Drama Series

1964

Portrayed Fred Grudge, the idealistic nephew of modern-day isolationist Daniel Grudge (Sterling Hayden) in the ABC special "Carol for Another Christmas," a contemporary version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

1963

Debut as TV series regular, "Arrest and Trial" (ABC)

1959

Gained wide acclaim for his role opposite Jimmy Stewart in Otto Preminger's "Anatomy of a Murder"

1957

First substantial film role, "The Strange One," an adaptation of "End as a Man"

1955

Film debut in bit role as a card player in "I'll Cry Tomorrow"

1955

Starred on Broadway in original production of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"; played the alcoholic son Brick to Burl Ives’s Big Daddy and Barbara Bel Geddes as Maggie

1955

Received a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Johnny Pope in "A Hatful of Rain" on Broadway

1953

Made Broadway debut with lead role as a psychopathic sadist in the play "End as a Man"

1952

First professional stage appearance in "Jezebel's Husband" at Pennsylvania's Pocono Playhouse

1952

Early TV appearances include episodes of "Danger" (CBS) and "Kraft Television Theatre" (NBC)

Bonus Trivia

.

Gazzara received a lifetime-career award at the Fort Lauderdale (Florida) Film Festival in 1998.

.

"I've always been intrigued with personal films, to my own disadvantage. I've been a renegade sort of outside the system for a long time. But thank God, the young directors who are getting a shot to make films are seeking me out. Working with those kids who are so talented, I'm so flattered...not only because of me, but because of my work with John [Cassavetes]. I'm sure that has a great influence on it. It's great that John is finally getting his heyday here in this country that didn't give him any breaks when he was alive." – Gazzara

.

"John [Cassavetes] and Benny had a great artistic understanding, and I think Benny was relieved to find someone like John, who took things as seriously as he did. We felt it was important, the acting and the words, and there was a complete giving over of yourself to the work. Nobody read trade papers on our sets." – Gena Rowlands to The Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1998

.

"Ben and John [Cassavetes] shared a celebratory spirit, a graciousness towards people and a kind of male warmth that's very inviting and doesn't exist much anymore. They were comfortable in their own skin – and that has probably something to do with the fact that Ben's been absent from American movies for a while. The characters we're following now aren't comfortable in their skin, and contemporary writing is about smaller characters than Ben is. There's something so energized and unapologetically male about Ben – he's a throwback to an American archetype associated with Hemingway." – Sean Penn to The Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1998

.

"John hated structure. Predictable structure. He hated drawing conclusions about people. That's why he could even make insanity amusing. Why he could defend insanity as a human condition that should be respected. He was not interested in making plot points. He was more interested in finding the surprise within individuals. The opposite of what you'd expect."Of course, he was generous. He shot an awful lot of film. An awful lot. And it was his money. That's why it took him so long in the cutting room. He could have made three or four films out of the material he had. I saw him cutting "Husbands". He had a delivery date. He was working until the last moment. His eyeballs were bleeding in that cutting room." – Gazzara quoted in Detour, June-July 1998

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