/eGvi9AtDsxB3HYarc3hB512R0Gn.jpgBiagio Anthony Gazzarra (1930 August 28 – 2012 February 3 )
known as Ben Gazzara, was an American film, stage, and television actor and director. His best known films include Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Voyage of the Damned (1976), Inchon (1981), Road House (1989), 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).
As the star of the television series Run for Your Life (1965–1968), Gazzarra was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards and two Emmy Awards. He won his first, and only, Emmy Award for his role in the television film Hysterical Blindness (2002).
Filmography
 
The Strange One (1957) as Jocko De Paris
 
Anatomy of a Murder (1959) as Lt. Frederick Manion
 
The Passionate Thief (1960) as Lello
 
The Young Doctors (1961) as Dr. David Coleman
 
Convicts 4 (1962) as John Resko
 
The Captive City (1962) as Capt. George Stubbs
 
A Carol for Another Christmas (1964) as Fred
 
A Rage to Live (1965) as Roger Bannon
 
Run for Your Life (1965-1968) as Paul Bryan
 
If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969) as Card Player
 
The Bridge at Remagen (1969) as Sgt. Angelo
 
King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis (1970) as Himself
 
Husbands (1970) as Harry
 
Fireball Forward (1972) as Maj. Gen. Joe Barrett
 
Pursuit (1972) as Steven Graves
 
The Sicilian Connection (1972) as Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Coppola
 
The Neptune Factor (1973) as Cmdr. Adrian Blake
 
QB VII (1974) as Abe Cady
 
Capone (1975) as Al Capone
 
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) as Cosmo Vittelli
 
High Velocity (1976) as Clifford Baumgartner
 
Voyage of the Damned (1976) as Morris Troper
 
The Death of Richie (1977) as George Werner
 
Opening Night (1977) as Manny Victor
 
Saint Jack (1979) as Jack Flowers
 
Bloodline (1979) as Rhys Williams
 
Inchon (1981) as Maj. Frank Hallsworth
 
They All Laughed (1981) as John Russo
 
Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981) as Charles Serking
 
The Girl from Trieste (1982) as Dino Romani
 
A Proper Scandal (1984) as The man with no memory
 
My Dearest Son (1985) as Avv. Antonio Morelli
 
An Early Frost (1985) as Nick Pierson
 
La donna delle meraviglie (1985) as Alberto
 
The Professor (1986) as Il Professore
 
Champagne amer (1986) as Paul Rivière
 
Control (1987) as Mike Zella
 
Quicker Than the Eye [de] (1988) as Ben Norrell
 
Don Bosco (1988) as Don Bosco
 
Road House (1989) as Brad Wesley
 
Oltre l’oceano (1990)
 
Lies Before Kisses (1991) as Grant Sanders
 
Forever (1991) as Marcello Rondi
 
Parallel Lives (1994) as Charlie Duke
 
Sherwood’s Travels (1994) as Raphael de Pietro
 
Les hirondelles ne meurent pas à Jérusalem (1994) as Moshe
 
Nefertiti, figlia del sole (1994) as Amanophis III
 
The Zone (1995) as Dick Althorp
 
Banditi (1995) as Amos
 
Ladykiller (1996) as Lt. Jack ‘Jigsaw’ Lasky
 
Farmer & Chase (1997) as Farmer
 
Shadow Conspiracy (1997) as Vice President Saxon
 
Stag (1997) as Frank Grieco
 
The Spanish Prisoner (1997) as Mr. Klein
 
Vicious Circles (1997) as March
 
Too Tired to Die (1998) as John Sage
 
Buffalo ’66 (1998) as Jimmy Brown
 
A Nagy Lebowski – The Big Lebowski (1998) as Jackie Treehorn
 
Happiness (1998) as Lenny Jordan
 
Illuminata (1998) as Old Flavio
 
Summer of Sam (1999) as Luigi
 
The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) as Andrew Wallace
 
Shark in a Bottle (1999) as The Arranger
 
Jack of Hearts (1999) as Bartossa
 
Paradise Cove (1999) as The Narrator
 
Blue Moon (2000) as Frank Cavallo
 
Believe (2000) as Ellicott Winslowe
 
Very Mean Men (2000) as Gino Minetti
 
Undertaker’s Paradise (2000) as Jim
 
The List (2000) as D.A. Bernard Salman
 
Nella terra di nessuno (2000) as L’avvocato Scalzi
 
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, episode “Wrath” (2001) as Executive Assistant Attorney
 
Home Sweet Hoboken (2001)
 
Brian’s Song (2001) as Coach Halas
 
Hysterical Blindness (2002) as Nick
 
L’ospite segreto (2003) as Solomos
 
Dogville – A menedék (2003) as Jack McKay
 
Bonjour Michel (2005) as Michele Terranova
 
Schubert (2005) as Don José
 
Pope John Paul II (2005) as Cardinal Agostino Casaroli
 
The Shore (2005) as Mr. Bob Harris
 
Paris, je t’aime (2006) as Ben (segment “Quartier Latin”)
 
L’onore e il rispetto (2006) as Fred Di Venanzio
 
Quiet Flows the Don [it] (2006) as Gen. Secretov
 
Looking for Palladin (2008) as Jack Palladin
 
Eve (2008) as Joe
 
Empire State Building Murders (2008) as Paulie Genovese
 
Holy Money (2009) as Vatican’s Banker
 
13 (2010) as Schlondorff
 
Christopher Roth (2010) as Paul Andersen
 
Chez Gino (2011) as Oncle Giovanni
 
Ristabbànna (2011) (final film role)
Early life
 
Gazzara was born in New York City, the son of Italian immigrants Angelina (née Cusumano) and Antonio Gazzarra, a laborer and carpenter, each of Sicilian origin – Angelina from Castrofilippo and Antonio from Canicattì in the province of Agrigento. Gazzara grew up in New York’s Kips Bay neighborhood; he lived on East 29th Street and participated in the drama program at Madison Square Boys and Girls Club located across the street. He attended New York City’s Stuyvesant High School, but finally graduated from Saint Simon Stock in the Bronx.Years later, he said that the discovery of his love for acting saved him from a life of crime during his teen years.
He went to City College of New York to study electrical engineering. After two years, he relented. He took classes in acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the influential German director Erwin Piscator and afterward joined the Actors Studio.
Career
Early career
 
Gazzara guest starred on shows like Treasury Men in Action and Danger.
He received acclaim for his off-Broadway performance in End as a Man in 1953. The production was transferred to Broadway and ran until 1954.
In 1954, Gazzara (having modified his original surname from “Gazzarra”) made several appearances on NBC’s legal drama Justice, based on case studies from the Legal Aid Society of New York. He also guest starred on shows such as Medallion Theatre, The United States Steel Hour.
Broadway success
 
Gazzara became a Broadway sensation when he created the role of Brick in Tennessee Williams’ Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1955–56) opposite Barbara Bel Geddes, directed by Elia Kazan, although he lost out to Paul Newman when the film version was cast.
He followed it with another long run in A Hatful of Rain (1956)
 
 
Film work
 
He joined other Actors Studio members in the 1957 film The Strange One produced by Sam Spiegel.
He had a Broadway flop with The Night Circus (1958) and continued to guest star on shows like Playhouse 90, Kraft Theatre, Armchair Theatre and The DuPont Show of the Month.
His second film was a high-profile performance as a soldier on trial for avenging his wife’s rape in Otto Preminger’s courtroom drama Anatomy of a Murder (1959).
Gazzara told Charlie Rose in 1998 that he went from being mainly a stage actor who often would turn up his nose at film roles in the mid-1950s to, much later, a ubiquitous character actor who turned very little down. “When I became hot, so to speak, in the theater, I got a lot of offers,” he said. “I won’t tell you the pictures I turned down because you’ll say, ‘You are a fool,’ and I was a fool.”
He went to Italy to make a comedy The Passionate Thief (1960) with Anna Magnani and Totò.
Back in the US he did a TV movie Cry Vengeance! ((1961) and was second billed in The Young Doctors (1961).
He starred in Convicts 4 (1962).
He returned to Italy to make The Captive City (1962) with David Niven.
Gazzara was in the 1963 Actors Studio production of Strange Interlude on Broadway.
 
 
Television star
Gazzara became well known in several television series, beginning with Arrest and Trial, which ran from 1963 to 1964 on ABC.
He also appeared in the TV special A Carol for Another Christmas (1964) and had a short Broadway run in A Traveller without Luggage in 1964. He also guest starred on Kraft Suspense Theatre.
Gazzara was the male lead in A Rage to Live (1965) with Suzanne Pleshette.
He gained fame in the TV series Run for Your Life which ran from 1965 to 1968 on NBC, in which he played a terminally ill man trying to get the most out of the last two years of his life. For his work in the series, Gazzara received two Emmy nominations for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series” and three Golden Globe nominations for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama.”
When the series ended Gazzara had a cameo in If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969) and a lead in the wartime action film The Bridge at Remagen (1969).
John Cassavetes
 
Some of the actor’s most formidable characters were those he created with his friend John Cassavetes in the 1970s. They collaborated for the first time on Cassavetes’s film Husbands (1970), in which he appeared alongside Peter Falk and Cassavetes himself.
Gazzara starred in a TV movie, Pursuit (1972), the directorial debut of Michael Crichton. He also made the TV movies When Michael Calls (1972), Fireball Forward (1972), and The Family Rico (1972).
He made The Sicilian Connection (1972) in Italy, and did a science fiction film The Neptune Factor (1973). There were more TV films You’ll Never See Me Again (1973) and Maneater (1973).
He starred in the television miniseries QB VII (1974), which won six primetime Emmy Awards. The six-and-a-half hour series was based on a book by Leon Uris and co-starred Anthony Hopkins, then played gangster Al Capone in the biographical film Capone (1975). Cassevetes was in the support cast.
Gazzara appeared on Broadway in Hughie (1975) then worked again for Cassavetes as director in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), in which Gazzara took the leading role of the hapless strip-joint owner, Cosmo Vitelli. He starred in an action movie, High Velocity (1976) and was one of many stars in Voyage of the Damned (1976).
Gazzarra returned to Broadway for a production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Colleen Dewhurst in 1976.
A year later, he starred in yet another Cassavetes-directed movie, Opening Night, as stage director Manny Victor, who struggles with the mentally unstable star of his show, played by Cassavetes’s wife Gena Rowlands. He made an acclaimed TV movie The Death of Richie (1977).
Peter Bogdanovich
 
Gazzara’s career received a boost when Peter Bogdanovich cast him in the title role of Saint Jack (1979). His increased profile helped him be cast in the male lead of Bloodline (1979) and the Korean War epic Inchon (1980) co-starring Laurence Olivier and Richard Roundtree.
He made another for Bogdanovich, They All Laughed (1981).
1980s
 
Gazzara made some films in Europe: Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981), The Girl from Trieste (1982), A Proper Scandal (1984), My Dearest Son. He starred with Rowlands in the critically acclaimed AIDS-themed TV movie An Early Frost (1985), for which he received his third Emmy nomination.
He had a villainous role in the oft-televised Patrick Swayze film Road House, which the actor jokingly said is probably his most-watched performance.
Gazzara appeared in 38 films, many for television, in the 1990s. He worked with a number of renowned directors, such as the Coen brothers (The Big Lebowski), Spike Lee (Summer of Sam), David Mamet (The Spanish Prisoner), Walter Hugo Khouri (Forever), Vincent Gallo (Buffalo ’66), Todd Solondz (Happiness), John Turturro (Illuminata), and John McTiernan (The Thomas Crown Affair).
In his seventies, Gazzara continued to be active. In 2003, he appeared in Nobody Don’t Like Yogi, an off Broadway show about Yogi Berra which had a solid run and was in a revival of Awake and Sing! (2006).
He was in the ensemble cast of the experimental film Dogville, directed by Lars von Trier of Denmark and starring Nicole Kidman, as well as the television film Hysterical Blindness (he received an Emmy Award for his role). In 2005, he played Agostino Casaroli in the television miniseries, Pope John Paul II. He completed filming his scenes in the film The Wait in early 2012, shortly before his death.
In addition to acting, Gazzara worked as an occasional television director; his credits include the Columbo episodes A Friend in Deed (1974) and Troubled Waters (1975). Gazzara was nominated three times for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play—in 1956 for A Hatful of Rain, in 1975 for the paired short plays Hughie and Duet, and in 1977 for a revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, opposite Colleen Dewhurst.
Personal life
 
Gazzara was married three times; First to actress Louise Erickson (1951–57). He married actress Janice Rule on November 25, 1961 in San Francisco.They had a daughter named Elizabeth. He married model Elke Krivat in 1982 and remained married to her until his death. Gazzara adopted his wife’s daughter Danja from her prior relationship. Following his separation from his first wife, Gazzara was engaged to stage actress Elaine Stritch and later disclosed a love affair with actress Audrey Hepburn. He and Hepburn co-starred in two of her final films, Bloodline (1979) and They All Laughed (1981).
In 1968, during filming of the war movie The Bridge at Remagen, co-starring Gazzara and friend Robert Vaughn, the Soviet Union and its allies invaded Czechoslovakia. The cast and crew were detained for a time; filming was later completed in West Germany. During their departure from Czechoslovakia, Gazzara and Vaughn assisted with the escape of a Czech waitress whom they had befriended. They smuggled her to Austria in a car waved through a border crossing that had not yet been taken over by the Soviet army in its crackdown on the Prague Spring.
Other
 
Gazzara was the honorary starter of the 1979 Daytona 500, the first flag-to-flag Daytona 500 broadcast live on CBS. He was also featured in a 1994 article in Cigar Aficionado, in which he admitted smoking four packs of cigarettes a day until taking up cigar smoking in the mid-1960s.
Death
 
Gazzara was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1999. He suffered a stroke in 2005.On February 3, 2012, he died of pancreatic cancer at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York.He was later cremated.
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