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Ben Gazzara

Ben Gazzara

Biagio Anthony Gazzara (August 28, 1930 – February 3, 2012) was an American actor and director of film, stage, and television. He received numerous accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award and a Drama Desk Award, in addition to nominations for three Golden Globe Awards and three Tony Awards. Born to Italian immigrants in New York City, Gazzara studied at The New School and began his professional career with the Actors Studio, of which he was a lifelong member. His breakthrough role was in the Broadway play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955–56), which earned him widespread acclaim and the first of three Tony nominations for Best Actor in a Play. A memorable performance as a soldier on trial for murder in Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder (1959) transitioned him to an equally successful screen career. As the star of the television series Run for Your Life (1965–1968), Gazzara was nominated for three Golden Globes and two Emmy Awards. He won his only Emmy Award for the television film Hysterical Blindness (2002). His other best-known films include The Bridge at Remagen (1969), Capone (1975) Voyage of the Damned (1976), Saint Jack (1979), Road House (1989), The Spanish Prisoner (1997), The Big Lebowski (1998), Buffalo '66 (1998), Happiness (1998), The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), Summer of Sam (1999), Dogville (2003) and Paris, je t'aime (2006). He was a recurring collaborator with John Cassavetes, working with him on Husbands (1970), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) and Opening Night (1977). He also had a successful and prolific film career in Europe, particularly Italy, where he worked with preeminent directors like Giuseppe Tornatore, Giuliano Montaldo, Marco Ferreri, and Lars von Trier. Gazzara was known for his gritty, naturalistic portrayals of intense, often amoral characters. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Gazzara positioned himself for 'creative elbow room,' seeking edgy characters in non-mainstream productions or infusing mainstream productions with idiosyncratic supporting turns."
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