Alan Arkin is an Academy Award-winning American actor who is also an acclaimed director, producer, author, singer and composer.
He was born Alan Wolf Arkin on March 26, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York, into a family of Jewish intellectuals from Russia and Germany. In 1946 the Arkins moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, California. His father, David Arkin, was an artist and writer, who worked as a teacher, and lost his job for merely refusing to answer questions about his political affiliation during the 1950s Red Scare. His father challenged the politically biased dismissal and eventually prevailed, but unfortunately it was after his death. His mother, Beatrice Arkin, shared his fathers views. Young Arkin was fond of music and acting, he was taking various acting classes from the age of 10. He attended Franklin High School, in Los Angeles, then Los Angeles City College from 1951 - 1953, and Bennington College in Vermont from 1953 - 1954. He sang in a college folk-band, and was involved in a drama class. He dropped out of college to form the folk music group The Tarriers, in which Arkin was the lead singer and played guitar. He co-wrote the 1956 hit "The Banana Boat Song" - a Jamaican calypso folk song, which became better known as Harry Belafonte's popular version, and reached #4 on the Billboard chart. At that time Arkin was a struggling young actor who played bit parts on television and on stage, and made a living as a delivery boy, repairman, pot washer and baby sitter. From 1958 - 1968 he performed and recorded with the children's folk group, The Babysitters. He has also recorded an entire album for the Elektra label titled "Folksongs - Once Over Lightly."
In 1957 Arkin made his first big screen appearance as a lead singer with The Tarriers in Calypso Heat Wave (1957). Then he made his Off-Broadway debut as a singer in "Heloise" (1958). Next year he joined the Compass Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri. There he caught the eye of stage director Bob Sills and became the original member of the "Second City" troupe in Chicago. In 1961 Arkin made his Broadway debut in musical "From the Second City", for which he wrote lyrics and sketches, then starred as David Kolowitz in the Broadway comedy "Enter Laughing" (1963), for which he won a Tony Award. He starred in a Broadway musical "From the Second City production, then returned to Broadway as Harry Berlin in "Luv" (1964). Arkin made his directorial debut with an Off-Broadway hit called "Eh?" (1966), which introduced the young actor, named Dustin Hoffman. He won a Drama Desk Award for his direction of the Off-Broadway production of "Little Murders" (1969), and another Drama Desk Award for "The White House Murder Case" (1970). He also directed the original version of Neil Simon's hilarious smash, "The Sunshine Boys" (1972), which ran over 500 performances.
Arkin earned his first Academy Award nomination as Best Actor for his feature acting debut in a comedy The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming (1966), by director Norman Jewison, co-starring as Lt. Rozanov, a Soviet submariner who is mistaken for a spy after his boat accidentally wrecks aground in New England. Arkin demonstrated his dramatic range as the psychopathic killer Roat in suspense film Wait Until Dark (1967), opposite Audrey Hepburn. He reinvented himself as the sensitive deaf-mute in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968), for which he received his second Academy Award nomination as Best Actor in the Leading role. He followed with what remained his best known role as Captain Yossarian in Catch-22 (1970), directed by Mike Nichols and based on the eponymous anti-war novel by Joseph Heller. In it Arkin arguably gave his strongest performance, however, his career suffered because the film initially did not live up to expectations. After a few years of directorial work on television, Arkin made a comeback with an impressive portrayal of doctor Sigmund Freud in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976). In the early 1980s he acted in three movies that were family affairs, written by his wife, Barbara Dana, and co-starring his son, Adam Arkin.
During the 1990s he turned out several notable performances, such as a bitter former baseball player in TNT's Cooperstown (1993) (TV), and as a hilarious psychiatrist opposite John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank (1997). He won raves for his portrayal of a divorced father who struggles to keep his kids enrolled in the Beverly Hills school system in Slums of Beverly Hills (1998). Arkin gave a brilliant performance opposite Robin Williams in Jakob the Liar (1999), a film about the Nazi occupation of Poland. He also returned to the New York stage co-starring with his son, Tony Arkin and Elaine May in "Power Plays", which he also co-authored. His most recent comeback as a heroin-snorting, sex-crazed, foul-mouthed grandfather in Little Miss Sunshine (2006), earned him his third Academy Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, and his first Academy Award.
Alan Arkin has been a modern Renaissance man. In addition to his achievements as an actor, director, and producer, he made his mark as a singer-songwriter with his popular-song compositions "Banana Boat Song", "Cuddle Bug," "That's Me," and "Best Time of the Year." Arkin also authored several books, including science-fiction and some children's stories, such as "The Clearing", "The Lemming Condition" and "Cassie Loves Beethoven" among his other publications. He is a father of three sons, Adam, Matthew, and Tony, and a grandfather of Molly Arkin.
Alan Arkin has been a strong supporter of an organic way of living and also a proponent for preservation of the environment and natural habitat. He has been avoiding the show-biz-milieu and is known as an actor who does not really care about prestigious awards, but values having a good job and being acknowledged by his peers. In Arkin's own words he wants to "Stay home for three months. Living as quietly as humanly possible." Arkin was given an Indian name, Grey Wolf, by his Native American friends in New Mexico.
Actor, author, singer and composer, educated at LACC and Los Angeles State College. He sang with a folk group (The Tarriers) and joined the Compass Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri and Second City in Chicago. In 1961 he came to New York with the Second City troupe, later appearing in the Broadway plays "Enter Laughing" and "Luv." He joined ASCAP in 1963 and his popular-song compositions include "Cuddle Bug," "That's Me," and "Best Time of the Year."IMDb Mini Biography By: Hup234!
|Suzanne Newlander Arkin||(1999 - present)|
|Barbara Dana||(16 June 1964 - 1999) (divorced) 1 child|
|Jeremy Yaffe||(14 December 1955 - 1961) (divorced) 2 children|
Founding member, Second City improv troupe.
Wrote "The Lemming Condition," "Cassie Loves Beethoven" and "One Present for Flekman's."
He was originally slated to play Saul Bloom in Steven Soderbergh's remake of Ocean's Eleven (2001); after dropping out of the production, he was replaced by Carl Reiner. Arkin won a 1963 Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Play as well as a Theatre World Award playing a character based on Carl Reiner in the Broadway production of Reiner's autobiographical novel Enter Laughing (1967).
Two of his movies, Popi (1969) and Freebie and the Bean (1974), were later adapted into television series starring Hector Elizondo in the roles Arkin brought to the screen. Elizondo also co-starred in the television series "Chicago Hope" (1994) with Arkin's son, Adam Arkin.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. pg. 24-25. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387.
In the foreword for the Second City book, Arkin revealed that he was reluctant to head to Chicago. He says that his first paying job as an actor was in St. Louis, where he ran into a fellow who was starting up the Second City theater troupe in Chicago, and said that if Arkin were ever to come to Chicago, he would hire him. Arkin halfheartedly agreed, thinking that it was just a joke, and headed back to New York for another year as a struggling actor. Arkin called the man and asked if a position was still open. The man confirmed it and Arkin headed to Chicago, thinking that his life was over. But when he joined Second City, he said that he realized he was with a group of people who fostered the kind of acting that he was involved in, and protected him from the fear of the world.
Although he usually plays quirky, fatherly types these days, back in the '60s and '70s he was known as an edgy, intense actor. His darkest role is almost certainly Harry Roat in Wait Until Dark (1967), who was a vicious but intelligent psychopath who terrifies a seemingly defenseless blind woman (played by Audrey Hepburn).
Was cast in the title role of Inspector Clouseau (1968) after Peter Sellers declined to reprise the role a third time. It was the last Clouseau film until Sellers returned to the role in The Return of the Pink Panther (1975).
Won Broadway's 1963 Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Play for Enter Laughing (1967), for which he also won a Theatre World Award. Ten years later, he was nominated for a 1973 Tony Award as Best Director (Dramatic) for The Sunshine Boys (1975/I).
Grandfather of son Adam Arkin's daughter Molly.
He is also a teacher, leading workshops in improvisation. Students find him warm, insightful, and very, very funny.
Lives in New Mexico with his wife, Suzanne Newlander Arkin.
Disowned his involvement in the film Freebie and the Bean (1974), saying he had only accepted the role because, "I needed the bread.".
One of only six actors to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his first screen appearance. The other five actors are: Orson Welles, Lawrence Tibbett, James Dean, Paul Muni and Montgomery Clift.
[on his character Harry Roat Jr. terrorizing Suzy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn) in Wait Until Dark (1967)] I hated it. I just thought she was terrific. I had an enormous amount of regard for her. I didn't like being cruel to her. It made me very uncomfortable.
It's not enough for me to just be a personality and go up there and say lines nicely. I want to tell a story with a character.
Well, I've always been a character actor. I've never been a leading man. It gave me an opportunity not to have to take my clothes off all the time.
I don't believe in competitions between artists. This is insane. Who has the authority to say someone is better?
[on why he thinks he won the Oscar in 2007] I haven't got a clue. I think it's my age. Everybody thinks I'm going to keel over in a year or two.
[about Abigail Breslin and her Oscar nomination] I hope she loses, frankly. No, I'm serious. I am not joking. What, next year she is going to get the Nobel Prize? It's enough. She has had enough attention. I love her and I love her family, and I feel enough is enough. She is a kid, she needs to have a childhood.
[on making Wait Until Dark (1967)] It was the only heavy I'd ever played up until then, and I had a miserable time; I was crazy about Audrey Hepburn. I was just in awe of her. She was an extraordinary person in every way, and I just hated terrorizing her. It just wasn't fun for me.
Everybody's career has ups and downs. I like to take chances, I don't like to stand still. And I don't give a damn what the market is interested in; I want to try things. Success has nothing to do with box office as far as I'm concerned. Success has to do with achieving your goals, your internal goals, and growing as a person. It would have been nice to have been connected with a couple more box office hits, but in the long run I don't think it makes you happier.
I like to jump categories -- I don't like to stay in one place if I can help it.
I like pushing myself around in as many different styles as I can find.
I know that if I can't move people, then I have no business being an actor.
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