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Charles Grodin Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (4)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (12)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (5)

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Died in Wilton, Connecticut, USA  (bone marrow cancer)
Birth NameCharles Grodinsky
Nickname Chuck
Height 6' 0½" (1.84 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Deadpan comedian Charles Sydney Grodin (originally Grodinsky) was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania of Russian/Polish ancestry and raised in a Jewish orthodox home. He attended the University of Miami but dropped out, opting instead for the life of a struggling actor. The movie A Place in the Sun (1951) was said to have steered him towards his chosen profession. In his own words: "It was two things. One is I think I developed an overwhelming crush on Elizabeth Taylor. And two, Montgomery Clift made acting look like 'Gee, well that looks pretty easy - just a guy talking.'".

After a spell with Uta Hagen (1956-59), he attended Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio before making his stage debut on Broadway in 1962. Though he appeared on screen from as early as 1954, Grodin did not make a great deal of headway in this medium until he attracted critical notice playing the small but crucial role of obstetrician Dr. C.C. Hill in Rosemary's Baby (1968). More substantial roles soon followed. His first major starring turn was in The Heartbreak Kid (1972), a black comedy written by Neil Simon and directed by Elaine May. Grodin managed to inject charm and humanity in what was essentially an egotistical central character. Film reviewer Roger Ebert praised his performance, describing the actor as a "kind of Dustin Hoffman-as-overachiever", an opinion which was echoed by Vincent Canby of the New York Times. Ironically, Grodin had earlier turned down the pivotal role in The Graduate (1967) which propelled Hoffman to stardom (he also -- probably unwisely -- spurned the role of oceanographer Matt Hooper in Jaws (1975) which instead went to Richard Dreyfuss).

Grodin's ultimate breakthrough came on the Broadway stage in "Same Time Next Year" (1975) (opposite Ellen Burstyn), a hugely successful romantic comedy about two people, each married to someone else, who conduct an extramarital affair for a single day over the course of 24 years in the same room of a northern Californian inn. Though the two leads left the show after seven months, Grodin was now much sought-after in Hollywood as a droll comic actor and cast in a string of hit comedies: Heaven Can Wait (1978), Seems Like Old Times (1980), The Lonely Guy (1984) and Midnight Run (1988). He also appeared to sterling effect in the underrated farce The Couch Trip (1988), in which he co-starred with Walter Matthau and Dan Aykroyd as the brittle psychiatrist and radio host Dr. George Maitlin. Arguably his most popular box office success was opposite the titular Saint Bernard canine in the family-oriented comedy Beethoven (1992). Despite less than enthusiastic critical reviews, the film was a hit with audiences, grossed $147.2 million worldwide and spawned a sequel.

In the mid-1990s, Grodin reinvented himself as a television host (The Charles Grodin Show (1995)) and political commentator. He made frequent guest appearances on talk shows with Carson or Letterman, typically adopting the persona of a belligerent tongue-in-cheek character to facilitate "comically uncomfortable situations on the set". Grodin was also a prolific author, both of fiction and non-fiction. An autobiography was entitled "It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here: My Journey Through Show Business" (1989). Charles Grodin died at age 86 of bone marrow cancer on May 18, 2021 at his home in Wilton, Connecticut.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Family (4)

Spouse Elissa Durwood (July 1983 - 18 May 2021)  (his death)  (1 child)
Julia Andrews Ferguson (20 February 1960 - 1968)  (divorced)  (1 child)
Children Nick Grodin
Marion Grodin
Parents Theodore I. Grodin
Lena Singer
Relatives Jack Grodin (sibling)

Trade Mark (3)

Employed petulant loutishness as a guest on various talk shows. Seemingly miffed or angry, his act was strictly tongue-in-cheek as he lobbed offensive verbal attacks at his hosts
Frequently played uptight, bland and world-weary white-collar professionals
Deep smooth voice

Trivia (12)

Second wife (and widow) was author Elissa Durwood.
Was close friends with actor Gene Wilder, who wanted Grodin to play the role of Charles/Pierre in Start the Revolution Without Me (1970), but Grodin declined, having committed to directing the original Broadway production of Lovers and Other Strangers (1970).
Daughter with Julia Ferguson: Marion Grodin. Son with Elissa Durwood: Nick Grodin.
Having already been cast as Captain Aarfy Aardvark in Catch-22 (1970), director Mike Nichols asked him to take over the role of Colonel Cathcart when the original actor did not work out. As the role was written for an older man, old age make-up was experimented with for several days, until it was decided to cast Martin Balsam instead, and Grodin returned to his original role.
He auditioned as Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate (1967), but was never offered the role. Mike Nichols still offered him a role in Catch-22 (1970), which he was already scheduled to direct at the time.
Admitted in a 2006 interview on Late Show with David Letterman (1993) that the surly attitude he adopts on talk shows is an act he developed in order to be a more interesting guest. According to Grodin, he was scheduled to make his first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) in 1973, and was to be in the segment immediately following Diana Ross performing a medley of her hits. Realizing that he would bomb if he followed her as himself, he adopted this churlish character who has little patience for the questions of the host. Carson loved it and it became his trademark.
Attended the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. He later studied drama at HB Studio in Greenwich Village, New York City.
Longtime resident of Fairfield County's Wilton, Connecticut, until his death on May 18, 2021.
His father, Theodore Isadore Grodin, was born in Pennsylvania, to Russian Jewish parents. His mother, Lena (Singer), was a Jewish emigrant from Yanov, Tatsinsky District, Russia (her father was born in Brest, Belarus and her mother was born in Poland).
His direction of "Lovers and Other Strangers" introduced him to Elaine May, who became his 'professional benefactor' Elaine May, and cast him in The Heartbreak Kid (1972).
Had appeared in three movies alongside Bonnie Hunt: He played her husband in Beethoven (1992) and Beethoven's 2nd (1993), and they both appeared and never shared screen time in Dave (1993).
Has one granddaughter: Geneva.

Personal Quotes (1)

I'm not that easy to insult, believe me, but cracks about people on movies who are there to pick up paychecks or actors who look like they phoned it in get me. People who write this stuff obviously have never been on the set of a movie from beginning to end. Just showing up somewhere every day for twelve to sixteen hours for three or four months should be enough to disqualify movie people from those cracks. The only thing about a movie that can be phoned in is a review.

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