Rod Steiger

Actor
Alongside Marlon Brando and James Dean, Rod Steiger helped redefine film acting in America after World War II. The brooding actor found success as the lovelorn butcher "Marty" (1953) on live television, but lost the ... Read more »
Born: 04/14/1925 in Westhampton, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (144)

Gli Eroi 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

Joe Head Goes Hollywood 2014 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Dinner For Five 2001 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

A Month of Sundays 2004 (Movie)

(Actor)

Poolhall Junkies 2003 (Movie)

Nick (Actor)

Hell in the Pacific 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Legacy 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

The Hollywood Sign 2001 (Movie)

Benson (Actor)

The Last Producer 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Body and Soul 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Chicken Soup For the Soul 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Journey Into Amazonia 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Narrator

Lightmaker 2000 (Movie)

Duke Osso (Actor)

Moby Dick 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Voice

Private Screenings: Rod Steiger 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Shirley Jones: Hollywood's Musical Mom 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

The Flying Dutchman 2000 (Movie)

Ben (Actor)

Crazy in Alabama 1999 (Movie)

Judge Mead (Actor)

End of Days 1999 (Movie)

Father Kovak (Actor)

Modern Vampires 1999 (Movie)

Frederick Van Helsing (Actor)

NYTV: By the People Who Made It 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Shiloh 2: Shiloh Season 1999 (Movie)

Doc Wallace (Actor)

The Hurricane 1999 (Movie)

Judge Sarokin (Actor)

Cypress Edge 1998 (Movie)

(Actor)

Incognito 1998 (Movie)

Milton A Donovan (Actor)

The 70th Annual Academy Awards 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The GI Bill: The Law That Changed America 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The Simpsons 1998 (Tv Show)

Voice

Animals 1997 (Movie)

Fontina (Actor)

EZ Streets 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Shiloh 1997 (Movie)

Doc Wallace (Actor)

The 54th Annual Golden Globe Awards 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Truth or Consequences, N.M. 1997 (Movie)

Tony Vago (Actor)

Artist's Revolution 1996 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Carpool 1996 (Movie)

Mr Hammerman (Actor)

Doctor Zhivago: The Making of a Russian Epic 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Little Surprises 1996 (Movie)

(Actor)

Little Surprises 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Mars Attacks! 1996 (Movie)

General Decker (Actor)

The Commish: Redemption 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Captain Nuke and the Bomber Boys 1995 (Movie)

(Actor)

Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Livers Ain't Cheap 1994 (Movie)

Victor (Actor)

Seven Sundays 1994 (Movie)

Benjamin (Actor)

The Critic 1993 - 1994 (Tv Show)

Voice

The Last Tattoo 1994 (Movie)

Major General Frank Zane (Actor)

The Specialist 1994 (Movie)

Joe Leon (Actor)

Lincoln 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Voice

AFI Salute to Sidney Poitier 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Guilty as Charged 1992 (Movie)

Ben Kallin (Actor)

Listen Up! Voices in Celebration of Education 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Street Scenes: New York on Film 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

The Neighbor 1992 (Movie)

Myron Hatch (Actor)

The Year of the Generals 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Voice

In the Line of Duty: Manhunt in the Dakotas 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Men of Respect 1991 (Movie)

Charlie D'Amico (Actor)

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe 1991 (Movie)

Reverend Willin (Actor)

January Man 1989 (Movie)

Eamon Flynn (Actor)

Sauf votre respect 1989 (Movie)

(Actor)

That Summer of White Roses 1989 (Movie)

Martin (Actor)

American Gothic 1988 (Movie)

Pa (Actor)

Black Water 1988 (Movie)

Judge Prescott (Actor)

Hello Actors Studio 1988 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Exiles 1988 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Kindred 1987 (Movie)

Dr Philip Lloyd (Actor)

Feel the Heat 1986 (Movie)

Jason Hannibal (Actor)

The 12th Annual People's Choice Awards 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Hollywood Wives 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

The Naked Face 1985 (Movie)

Lieutenant McGreavy (Actor)

The Lucky Star 1984 (Movie)

Colonel Gluck (Actor)

I Love Liberty 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Der Zauberberg 1981 (Movie)

(Actor)

Lion of the Desert 1981 (Movie)

Benito Mussolini (Actor)

Wolf Lake 1981 (Movie)

Charlie (Actor)

Cattle Annie and Little Britches 1980 (Movie)

US Marshal Bill Tilghman (Actor)

The Chosen 1980 (Movie)

Reb Saunders (Actor)

Love and Bullets 1979 (Movie)

Joe Bomposa (Actor)

The Amityville Horror 1979 (Movie)

Father Delaney (Actor)

F.I.S.T. 1978 (Movie)

Senator Andrew Madison (Actor)

Jack London's Klondike Fever 1978 (Movie)

Soapy Smith (Actor)

Les Innocents aux mains Sales 1978 (Movie)

Louis (Actor)

Teil Steiner - Das Eiserne Kreuz 2 1978 (Movie)

Colonel Webster (Actor)

W.C. Fields and Me 1976 (Movie)

W C Fields (Actor)

Hennessy 1975 (Movie)

Hennessy (Actor)

Last Days of Mussolini 1973 (Movie)

Mussolini (Actor)

Lucky Luciano 1972 (Movie)

Gene Giannini (Actor)

The Lolly-Madonna War 1972 (Movie)

Laban Feather (Actor)

Duck, You Sucker 1971 (Movie)

Juan Miranda (Actor)

Happy Birthday, Wanda June 1970 (Movie)

Harold Ryan (Actor)

Waterloo 1970 (Movie)

Napoleon (Actor)

The Illustrated Man 1969 (Movie)

Carl (Actor)

Three Into Two Won't Go 1969 (Movie)

Steve Howard (Actor)

No Way to Treat a Lady 1968 (Movie)

Christopher Gill (Actor)

The Sergeant 1968 (Movie)

Master Sergeant Callan (Actor)

In the Heat of the Night 1967 (Movie)

Bill Gillespie (Actor)

Doctor Zhivago 1965 (Movie)

Komarovsky (Actor)

The Pawnbroker 1965 (Movie)

Sol Nazerman (Actor)

The Loved One 1964 (Movie)

Mr Joyboy (Actor)

13 West Street 1962 (Movie)

Detective Koleski (Actor)

Hands Across the City 1962 (Movie)

Dante DiPinto (Actor)

The General Electric Theater 1952 - 1962 (TV Show)

Actor

Convicts Four 1961 (Movie)

Tiptoes (Actor)

The Longest Day 1961 (Movie)

Commander (Actor)

The Mark 1961 (Movie)

Dr Edmund McNally (Actor)

Schlitz Playhouse of Stars 1951 - 1959 (TV Show)

Actor

Seven Thieves 1959 (Movie)

Paul (Actor)

Al Capone 1958 (Movie)

Al Capone (Actor)

Cry Terror! 1958 (Movie)

Paul Hoplin (Actor)

Across the Bridge 1957 (Movie)

Carl Schaffer (Actor)

Run of the Arrow 1957 (Movie)

O'Meara (Actor)

The Unholy Wife 1957 (Movie)

Paul Hochen (Actor)

Jubal 1956 (Movie)

Pinky (Actor)

Philco Television Playhouse 1948 - 1956 (TV Show)

Actor

The Harder They Fall 1956 (Movie)

Nick Benko (Actor)

Oklahoma! 1955 (Movie)

Jud Fry (Actor)

The Big Knife 1955 (Movie)

Stanley Hoff (Actor)

The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell 1955 (Movie)

Major Allan Guillion (Actor)

On the Waterfront 1954 (Movie)

(Actor)

Marty 1952 - 1953 (TV Show)

Actor

Back from Eternity (Movie)

Vasquez (Actor)

Columbo: Strange Bedfellows (TV Show)

Actor

Dalva (TV Show)

Actor

In Pursuit of Honor (TV Show)

Actor

James Dean: A Portrait (TV Show)

Actor

Jesus of Nazareth (TV Show)

Actor

Out There (TV Show)

Actor

Passion and Paradise (TV Show)

Actor

Public Enemies on the Rock (TV Show)

Narrator

Sinatra (TV Show)

Actor

Sword of Gideon (TV Show)

Actor

Teresa (TV Show)

Actor

Tom Clancy's Op Center (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

Alongside Marlon Brando and James Dean, Rod Steiger helped redefine film acting in America after World War II. The brooding actor found success as the lovelorn butcher "Marty" (1953) on live television, but lost the film role to Ernest Borgnine. In the ensuing years, Steiger racked up a résumé of incendiary film appearances, as Brando's gangster brother in "On the Waterfront" (1954), as a prairie psychopath in "Oklahoma!" (1955), and as an embittered Civil War veteran who goes native in "Run of the Arrow" (1957). Lured to Europe for roles of greater depth than those Hollywood offered, Steiger returned stateside to play Sidney Lumet's "The Pawnbroker" (1964) and won an Academy Award as a bigoted Southern lawman who comes to respect black colleague Sidney Poitier in "In the Heat of the Night" (1967). His star wattage dimming with the failure of "The Sergeant" (1968), in which Steiger played a decorated soldier who has buried his homosexuality, and of Sergei Bondarchuk's epic "Waterloo" (1970), in which he appeared as Napoleon Bonaparte, Steiger embraced character roles. Plagued by depression, Steiger maintained a punishing workload, playing priests, judges, army generals, presidents, doctors and mobsters on cinema and television screens, at home and abroad. At the time of his death in 2002, Steiger was honored as a flawed but fascinating personality, an uncompromising artist whose love of craft inspired generations of cinematic angry young men.

Rodney Steven Steiger was born on April 14, 1925, in Westhampton, NY. The only child of vaudeville performers, Steiger never knew his father, Frederick, who deserted the family shortly after his birth. Raised in Newark, NJ by his single mother, the former Lorraine Driver, whose Lutheran faith was a poor bulwark against depression and alcoholism, Steiger dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to join the U.S. navy during World War II. After seeing action in the Pacific Theater, he returned stateside, where he landed a job oiling check-cashing machine parts through the Civil Service. Interested in meeting girls, Steiger joined a local social club that needed men to perform in its amateur plays. Encouraged by his peers, Steiger headed to New York City, using the GI Bill of Rights to enroll in classes at The New School's Dramatic Workshop, where he studied with Actor's Studio cofounder Stella Adler.

Steiger made his Broadway debut in December 1950, in the small role of a townsman in the Actor's Studio revival of Henrik Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People," which ran for 36 performances at the Broadhurst Theater. He was given more to do in his next outing on the Great White Way, in a revival of Clifford Odets' "Night Music" at the ANTA Theater, although the production closed after only a week. In Hugh Hastings' wartime drama "Seagulls Over Sorrento," Steiger played a telegraph operator, but the American premiere of the British West End hit closed after only a dozen performances. Steiger's luck was better in the burgeoning medium of live television, where he had the starring role in "Marty" (1953), a drama by Paddy Chayefsky broadcast on "The Goodyear Television Playhouse" (NBC, 1948-1955). Steiger's raw, deeply-felt performance as a lonely Bronx butcher who finds love in middle-age made his career.

Steiger turned down the role he had originated on TV in Delbert Mann's feature film adaptation of "Marty" (1955) due to his refusal to sign a limiting long-term contract. While replacement Ernest Borgnine snagged the 1956 Academy Award for Best Actor in "Marty," Steiger pushed ahead through a string of memorable film appearances. He was Marlon Brando's mobster brother in Elia Kazan's incendiary "On the Waterfront" (1954) and a venal Hollywood studio chief in Robert Aldrich's "The Big Knife" (1955), adapted from the play by Clifford Odets. He was a singing sociopath in Fred Zinnemann's CinemaScope musical "Oklahoma!" (1955), but engendered sympathy as a Confederate soldier who chooses to live among the Plains Indians after the Civil War in Sam Fuller's "Run of the Arrow" (1957). One of only a handful of Hollywood films to treat with sympathy the plight of the Native American, "Run of the Arrow" reflected Steiger's liberal, humanist politics, which often put him through his long career at odds with cutthroat studio presidents and autocratic film directors.

After playing Chicago crime kingpin "Al Capone" (1959) for Allied Artists Pictures and helping Edward G. Robinson rob a Monte Carlo casino in "Seven Thieves" (1960), Steiger enjoyed a run of good guy roles that provided the actor with a low-key alternative to his trademark escalating bombast. In "The Mark" (1961), Steiger was effective as a psychologist who attempts to reform pedophile Stuart Whitman. In "13 West Street" (1962), his even-keeled police detective counseled star Alan Ladd from turning to vigilantism in the aftermath of a violent attack. He was on his worst behavior again as the sadistic prison guard Tiptoes in Millard Kaufman's "Convicts 4" (1962) and traveled to Italy to play a corrupt real estate developer in Francesco Rosi's "Hands over the City" (1963) and a lothario romancing aristocrat Paulette Goddard and daughter Claudia Cardinale in Francesco Masselli's "Time of Indifference" (1964).

Having toggled between leading man and supporting roles through the first decade of his acting career, Steiger returned to the United States as a bone fide movie star. He received an Academy Award nomination for playing "The Pawnbroker" (1964) for Sidney Lumet, an elderly Holocaust survivor who reflects on the tragedies of the past as he navigates an uncertain and unpromising future. Steiger followed this intense performance with a giddy cameo as Mr. Joyboy, a Hollywood funeral parlor embalmer in "The Loved One" (1965), Tony Richardson's all-star adaptation of the satiric novel by Evelyn Waugh. In David Lean's "Doctor Zhivago" (1965), Steiger filled out the bottom third of a doomed Revolution-era love triangle alongside Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in Norman Jewison's "In the Heat of the Night" (1967), as a small town Southern sheriff who must team with Sidney Poitier's visiting African-American detective to solve a murder case.

Steiger followed his Oscar-winning performance, a study in down-home irascibility, by playing a serial killer with serious mother issues in Paramount's Broadway-set black comedy "No Way to Treat a Lady" (1968), directed by Jack Smight. One of Steiger's more undervalued film appearances, the role allowed Steiger to appear in a variety of disguises throughout and to poke fun at his own theatrical volatility. The actor lobbied hard to win the title role of John Flynn's "The Sergeant" (1968), a career soldier and decorated World War II veteran who falls in love with handsome new recruit John Phillip Law while overseeing operations at an army fuel depot in rural France. Steiger worked again with Smight in "The Illustrated Man" (1968), as a heavily-tattooed vagrant whose skin art prompts a triptych of chilling tales. Adapted from the novel by Ray Bradbury, the production allowed Steiger to appear alongside second wife Claire Bloom, although the couple divorced the following year.

Refusing the title role in "Patton" (1970), Steiger chose instead to appear as Napoleon Bonaparte in Sergei Bondarchuk's "Waterloo" (1970), a noble box office failure that nonetheless netted the actor a million dollar paycheck. Though he lobbied exhaustively, in his mid-forties, to play the role of Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" (1972), Paramount executives turned down his request for a screen test. Branded as a difficult actor often not worth the trouble, Steiger returned to Europe to play a Mexican revolutionary in Sergio Leone's "Duck, You Sucker!" (1971), Benito Mussolini in Carlo Lizzani's "The Last 4 Days" (1974), and an Irish family man who becomes a terrorist after his family is slain by British troops in Don Sharp's "Hennessy" (1975). Back in the States, the actor was an inspired choice to play W. C. Fields in Arthur Hiller's "W.C. Fields and Me" (1976) but a bout with depression following open heart surgery reduced him to supporting roles in Norman Jewison's "F.I.S.T." (1978) and Stuart Rosenberg's "The Amityville Horror" (1979). Steiger was Old West lawman Bill Tilghman in Lamont Johnson's Western "Cattle Annie and Little Britches" (1981). Working in support of lead actresses Amanda Plummer and Diane Lane, Steiger dialed down his trademark bombast to sell the weariness of a career lawman who has grown old chasing Burt Lancaster's wily outlaw Bill Doolin.

He brought a similar quiet intensity to his role as a Hassidic Jew in Jeremy Kagan's "The Chosen" (1981), an adaptation of the novel by Chaim Potok. Having based his performance on childhood memories of growing up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, Steiger was honored with a Best Actor award at the 1981 Montreal World Film Festival. He spent the balance of the decade jobbing from film to film, lending his considerable gravitas to such unworthy exploitation films as "The Kindred" (1987), "American Gothic" (1988) and "Guilty as Charged" (1991), invariably as unyielding authority figures. In 1997, Steiger received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In the last decade of his life, Steiger bounced between playing mobsters - in such films as "The Specialist" (1994) with Sylvester Stallone and the made-for-TV "Sinatra" (1992) - or military men, as in Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!" (1996) and a 1998 episode of the animated sitcom "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ), in which he provided the voice of submarine commander Captain Tenille. Steiger's last feature film role was in Mars Callahan's "Poolhall Junkies" (2002), which went into limited release only a month before his death on July 9, 2002, from pneumonia kidney failure after undergoing cancer surgery.

By Richard Harland Smith

Relationships

Fredrick Steiger

Father

Lorraine Steiger

Mother

Joan Benedict Steiger Actor

Wife
Married Oct. 10, 2000 until his death July 9, 2002

Claire Bloom Actor

Wife
Married Sept. 20, 1959; she was four months pregnant when they wed Divorced June 1969

Paula Ellis

Wife

Sally Gracie Actor

Wife

Sherry Nelson

Wife

Anna Steiger

Daughter
mother, Claire Bloom made NY City Opera debut in 1990

Michael Steiger

Son
born on February 8, 1993 mother, Paula Ellis

EDUCATION

Westside High School

Newark , New Jersey
left school at age 16 to enlist in the Navy (lied to recruiter about how old he was)

Actors Studio

New York , New York

American Theatre Wing

New York , New York

Dramatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research

New York , New York

Milestones

2003

Co-starred in the feature "Poolhall Junkies"

2001

Portrayed a dying patriarch in the independent feature "A Month of Sundays"

1997

Received star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (April 10)

1987

Appeared as himself in the interview documentary feature, "Hello Actors Studio"

1983

First TV-movie, "Cook & Peary: The Race to the Pole", with Steiger as explorer Robert E Peary and co-star Richard Chamberlain as Frederick Cook

1977

Returned to TV after 20 years to play Pontius Pilate in his first TV miniseries, "Jesus of Nazareth"

1968

Won Best Actor Oscar for "In the Heat of the Night"

1965

Earned Best Actor Academy Award nomination for "The Pawnbroker"

1963

Acted in first foreign-language feature, "Le mani sulla citta/Hands Over the City", directed by Francesco Rosi

1962

Had leading role in the stage play "Moby Dick--Rehearsed", written by Orson Wells

1959

Played first biographical film role, "Al Capone"

1957

Starred in the TV pilot, "The Lonely Wizard", for an untitled anthology series which was not picked up; marked Steiger's last TV role for 20 years

1957

Made first film outside the US, "Across the Bridge", a British production

1957

First received top billing in a feature film in "Run of the Arrow"

1956

Played first leading role in features in "The Harder They Fall", opposite Humphrey Bogart

1954

Received first Oscar nomination, as Best Supporting Actor, for his role in "On the Waterfront"

1951

Broadway debut in "Night Music"

1951

Film acting debut in "Teresa"

1948

Appeared in over 250 live TV dramas

Acted primarily in features shot in Europe, especially Italy

After serving in the US Navy (1942-1945), worked in civil service

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