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American actor Eli Wallach has appeared in such films as The Misfits; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
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Born on December 7, 1915, Eli Wallach served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He made his Broadway debut in 1945. He won a Tony Award for 1951's The Rose Tattoo, and appeared his first film Baby Doll in 1956. More film roles soon followed, including parts in The Misfits and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Wallach later appeared in The Godfather: Part III (1990) and The Ghost Writer (2010).
"I don't act to live. I live to act."
A seasoned character actor, Eli Wallach has worked with some of Hollywood's greatest stars, including Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen and Al Pacino. He grew up in Brooklyn as the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland in a predominantly Italian neighborhood. Around the age of 15, Wallach took to the stage for the first time in a boys' club production. He enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to become an actor.
Wallach earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Texas and then pursed a master's degree in education from the College of the City of New York. His parents wanted him to become a teacher, but he was more interested in acting. Wallach studied at the famed Neighborhood Playhouse with Sanford Meisner. Tony Randall was among those in his class at the Playhouse. Wallach had to put his dreams of life on the stage on hold for a time, however. During World War II, he was drafted and served in the U.S. Army for two years.
After the war, Wallach returned to New York City. He made his Broadway debut in 1945 in the short-lived play Skydrift. While that show failed to take off, Wallach continued to work steadily on the New York stage over the next several years. He enjoyed a long run as Stefanowski in Mister Roberts beginning in 1949 and won critical acclaim for his work in the 1951 play The Rose Tattoo. Both he and his co-star Maureen Stapleton earned Tony Awards for their performances in this drama by Tennessee Williams. Around this time, Wallach tied the knot with actress Anne Jackson. The pair, wed in 1948, have enjoyed one of Hollywood's most enduring marriages.
In 1956, Wallach made his film debut in Baby Doll with Carroll Baker and Karl Malden. He played a scheming Italian businessman who moves in on another man's wife in this steamy southern drama penned by Tennessee Williams and directed by Elia Kazan. Wallach went to appear in a string of classic films in the early 1960s. He starred in the John Sturges' western The Magnificent Seven (1960) playing a Mexican bandit. A group of hired guns (including Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner) try to stop the bandit's attack on a village. The following year, he had a supporting role in the John Huston drama The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. Wallach's turn as a sergeant in the 1963 war drama The Victors was another critical success.
Wallach gave one of his best-known and well-regarded performances in the 1966 western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly with Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. That following year, he won an Emmy Award for his work on a television special.
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