John Cazale Poster


Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (6) | Trivia (30)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 12 August 1935Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Date of Death 12 March 1978New York City, New York, USA  (lung cancer)
Birth NameJohn Holland Cazale
Height 5' 10½" (1.79 m)

Mini Bio (1)

John Cazale was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to an Irish-American mother, Cecilia (Holland), and an Italian-American father, John Cazale. Cazale only made five feature films in his career, all which many fans and critics alike call classics. But before his film debut, the short The American Way (1962), he won numerous Obie Awards for his stage performances in "The Indian Wants the Bronx" and "The Line".

Cazale scored the role of Fredo Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972), after his long time friend, Al Pacino, invited him to audition. He reprised his role as the troubled Fredo in The Godfather: Part II (1974), where his character endures one of the most infamous movie moments in the history of cinema.

Cazale also starred with Gene Hackman and Harrison Ford in the thriller, The Conversation (1974), as Hackman's assistant, Stan. The Godfather's director, Francis Ford Coppola, also directed the movie.

Cazale's fourth feature film, Dog Day Afternoon (1975), earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Sal, a bank robber. His long time friend and Godfather co-star, Al Pacino, played his partner, Sonny.

His final film, The Deer Hunter (1978), was filmed whilst he was ill with cancer. He was in a relationship with his co-star, Meryl Streep, whilst filming The Deer Hunter (1978), whom he met when they both appeared in the New York Public Theater's 1976 production of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure.

Controversy occurred during the filming. While the studio was unaware of his condition, the director, Michael Cimino, knew about it. As Cazale was evidently weak, he was forced to film his scenes first. When the studio discovered he was suffering from cancer, they wanted him removed from the film. His co-star and girlfriend, Meryl Streep, threatened to quit if he was fired. He died shortly after filming was completed.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jessica Kaitse

Trade Mark (6)

Playing deadbeat, loser characters
Vibrant voice
Often played depressed characters
Subtle but emotional performances
Expressive eyes
Most often appeared with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro

Trivia (30)

Was in a relationship with Meryl Streep at the time of his death.
Was dying of cancer while filming The Deer Hunter (1978)
Cazale appeared in only five feature films in his career, and all of them were nominated for Best Picture.
Studied drama at Oberlin College and Boston University.
Played characters named Stan in two movies (q.v.) The Conversation (1975) and The Deer Hunter (1978).
His father, John Cazale, was of Italian descent. His mother, Cecilia (Holland), was of Irish ancestry.
Years after his death he appeared in a sixth feature film, The Godfather: Part III (1990) in archive footage. That film, like all of the films Cazale appeared in, was nominated for Best Picture.
Was friends with Al Pacino when they both were working as messengers in new york in their 20's.
In spite of the desperate, violent characters he played in a handful of films, he was by all accounts an enormously kind and gentle person off screen, having been a close personal friend of most of the actors he had worked with. Among his greatest achievements was that he helped the discovery of childhood friend Al Pacino, fellow,actor Robert De Niro, and his girlfriend at the time of his early death, Meryl Streep.
Has a theater named after him, the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, located at 2162 Broadway at 76th Street, NY, NY above the former Promenade Theatre (now closed) on the fourth floor. The theater sits from 99 to 108 people. The "McGinn" in the theater's title is for actor Walter McGinn.
Cited as a "Distinguished Performance" by the Off-Broadway Obie Awards for the 1967-1968 season for his performance in Israel Horovitz's play "The Indian Wants the Bronx".
Close friend and frequent co-star, Al Pacino, referred to Cazale as his "acting partner", the guy he could've acted with his entire life.
Three of the five feature-length movies he made also starred Al Pacino: The Godfather (1972), The Godfather: Part II (1974) and Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Greatly impressed with his performance in The Godfather (1972), director Francis Ford Coppola wrote a much bigger and central role for Cazale in the sequel, The Godfather: Part II (1974).
Unlike most of the casting of the film, Cazale easily won his part as Fredo Corleone in The Godfather (1972) after being seen in the play 'Line' by producer of the film, Albert S. Ruddy, who was invited to see the play by Cazale's co-star Richard Dreyfuss. He was an obvious choice to both Ruddy and Coppola for Fredo.
Friend Al Pacino requested him to audition for the role of Sal in Dog Day Afternoon (1975). Director Sidney Lumet was, however, unsure, with Cazale not being anything like the real-life counterpart (the real Sal was eighteen, while Cazale was in his late thirties). Cazale immediately won over the part with the audition.
Ad-libbed his famous "Wyoming?" line in Dog Day Afternoon (1975). Director Sidney Lumet laughed so hard that he feared he had ruined the take. It wasn't ruined, however, and was used in the final cut.
Three of the five feature films he appeared in won the Oscar for Best Picture. The other two were nominated.
All of his films involved either Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, or Robert De Niro. Or, in the case of the Godfather Part II, all three.
Of the five films he appeared in, three also featured Robert Duvall, three starred Al Pacino, three were directed by Francis Ford Coppola, two starred Bobby DeNiro, and three won the Oscar for Best Picture.
Five of John Cazale's six films - The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather, Part II, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter are on the Library of Congress' National Film Registry, and are deemed "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant" films. Since 1989, the Library has added 25 films to the registry each year. The Godfather films made the list the first year.
Worked as a messenger, photographer, and taxi driver in his early days as a struggling actor.
His father was a wholesale coal salesman and his mother was a homemaker.
Was the middle kid of three children.
Brother of Steve Cazale.
Was an avid fan of baseball.
He and Meryl Streep met during a "Shakespeare in the park" stint, acting in a production of "Measure for Measure".
Of the four actors who played Vito Corleone's children in the Godfather films, he was the only one not nominated for an Oscar for doing so. Al Pacino and James Caan were nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the first film. Al Pacino was nominated again, this time for Best Actor, for the second film, in which Talia Shire was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
Although he played James Caan's younger brother in The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974), he was five years his senior in real life.
Although he played Morgana King and Marlon Brando's son in The Godfather (1972), he was only five and eleven years their junior respectively.

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