Jack Palance Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (5)  | Trivia (44)  | Personal Quotes (8)

Overview (4)

Born in Lattimer Mines, Pennsylvania, USA
Died in Montecito, California, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameVladimir Ivanovich Palahniuk
Height 6' 3¼" (1.91 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Jack Palance exemplified evil incarnate on film -- portraying some of the most intensely despised villains witnessed in 50s westerns and melodrama. He received two Best Supporting Actor nominations early in his career, but it would take a grizzled, eccentric comic performance 40 years later for him to finally grab the coveted statuette.

Of Ukrainian descent, Palance was born Volodymyr Jack Palahniuk on February 18, 1919, in Lattimer Mines, Pennsylvania coal country, to Anna (Gramiak) and Ivan Palahniuk. His father, an anthracite miner, died of black lung disease. The sensitive, artistic lad worked in the mines in his early years but averted the same fate as his father. Athletics was his ticket out of the mines when he won a football scholarship to the University of North Carolina. He subsequently dropped out to try his hand at professional boxing. Fighting under the name "Jack Brazzo," he won his first 15 fights, 12 by knockout, before losing a 4th round decision to future heavyweight contender Joe Baksi on Dec. 17, 1940.

With the outbreak of World War II, Palance's boxing career ended and his military career began, serving in the Army Air Force as a bomber pilot. Wounded in combat and suffering severe injuries and burns, he received the Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. He resumed college studies as a journalist at Stanford University and became a sportswriter for the San Francisco Chronicle. He also worked for a radio station until the acting bug bit.

Palance made his stage debut in "The Big Two" in 1947 and immediately followed it understudying Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in the groundbreaking Broadway classic "A Streetcar Named Desire," a role he eventually took over. Following stage parts in "Temporary Island" (1948), "The Vigil" (1948) and "The Silver Tassle" (1949), Palance won a choice role in "Darkness of Noon" and also the Theatre World Award for "promising new personality". This recognition helped him secure a 20th Century-Fox contract. The facial burns and resulting reconstructive surgery following the crash and burn of his WWII bomber plane actually worked to the leathery actor's advantage in Hollywood. Hardly possessing the look of a glossy romantic leading man, Palance instead became an archetypal villain equipped with an imposing glare, intimidating stance and killer-shark smile.

He stood out among a powerhouse cast that included actors such as Richard Widmark, Zero Mostel and Paul Douglas in his movie debut in Elia Kazan's Panic in the Streets (1950), as a plague-carrying fugitive. He was soon on his way. Initially billed as Walter Jack Palance, the actor made fine use of his former boxing skills and war experience for the film Halls of Montezuma (1951) as a boxing Marine in Richard Widmark's platoon. Palance followed this with the first of his back-to-back Oscar nods. In Sudden Fear (1952), only his third film, he played rich-and-famous playwright Joan Crawford's struggling actor husband who plots to murder her and run off with gorgeous Gloria Grahame. Finding the right menace and intensity to pretty much steal the proceedings, he followed this with arguably his finest villain of the decade, that of creepy, sadistic gunslinger Jack Wilson who becomes Alan Ladd's biggest nightmare (not to mention others) in the classic western Shane (1953). Their climactic showdown alone is text book.

Throughout the 1950s Palance earned some very good film roles such as those in Man in the Attic (1953) (his first lead), The Big Knife (1955) and the war classic Attack (1956). Mixed in were a few routine to highly mediocre parts in Flight to Tangier (1953), Sign of the Pagan (1954), in which he played Attila the Hun, and the biblical bomb The Silver Chalice (1954). In between filmmaking were a host of powerful TV roles -- none better than his down-and-out boxer in Playhouse 90: Requiem for a Heavyweight (1956), a rare sympathetic role that earned him an Emmy. Overseas in the 1960s, Palance made a killing in biblical and war epics and in "spaghetti -- Revak the Rebel (1960), Barabbas (1961) [Barabbas], and A Bullet for Rommel (1969) [A Bullet for Rommel]. Also included in his 60s foreign work was his participation in the Jean-Luc Godard masterpiece Contempt (1963) [Contempt].

On TV, Palance played a number of nefarious nasties to perfection ranging from Dracula to Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Into his twilight years he showed a penchant for brash, quirky comedy capped by his Oscar-winning role in City Slickers (1991), its sequel, and others. He even played Ebenezer Scrooge in a TV-movie incongruously set in the Wild West. Married twice, his three children -- Holly, Brooke and Cody (the last died in 1998 of cancer) -- all dabbled in acting and appeared with their father at one time or another. A man of few words off the set, he owned his own cattle ranch and displayed other creative sides as a exhibited painter and published poet. Jack's last years were marred by failing health and he died at age 87 of natural causes at his daughter Holly's Montecito, California home.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Elaine Rochelle Rogers (6 May 1987 - 10 November 2006) ( his death)
Virginia Baker (21 April 1949 - 5 June 1968) ( divorced) ( 3 children)

Trade Mark (5)

Deep rumbly authoritative voice
Often played menacing, sinister villains
Machiavellian eyebrows
Intense acting manner
Towering height and muscular frame

Trivia (44)

Former father-in-law of Roger Spottiswoode. Father-in-law of Michael Wilding Jr..
American actor of Ukrainian ancestry.
Claimed on at least one occasion that he never watched any of his own movies.
According to a website honoring movie celebrities that flew in B-24s, Palance burned his face severely while bailing out of a B-24 which was on fire during a training flight in Tucson in 1942 (that would probably have been the Davis-Monthan Army Air Corps base at that time) and after several surgeries was discharged in 1944. He is described as a "pilot in training".
Attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill but did not graduate.
Spoke six languages: Ukrainian, Russian, Italian, Spanish, French and English.
Once fell asleep in his square during a taping of The Hollywood Squares (Daytime) (1965).
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6608 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (1992).
Received his Bachelor's degree in Drama from Stanford University in Stanford, California (1949).
During the early phases of pre-production for The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), 20th Century-Fox studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck suggested Palance for the role of the robot Gort. The role was eventually filled by a much taller non-actor.
During his struggling days, he worked as a short order cook, waiter, soda jerk, lifeguard at Jones Beach, and a photographer's model.
While an understudy to Marlon Brando in the Broadway production of "A Streetcar Named Desire", Brando, who was into athletics, rigged up a punching bag in the theater's boiler room and invited Jack to work out with him. One night, Jack threw a hard punch that missed the bag and landed square on Brando's nose. The star had to be hospitalized and understudy Palance created his own big break by going on for Brando. Jack's reviews as Stanley Kowalski helped get him a 20th Century-Fox contract.
His father was an anthracite coal miner.
Was forced to decline the role of General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) due to scheduling conflicts over his work in City Slickers (1991). He went on to receive the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for City Slickers (1991). Christopher Plummer was eventually cast as Chang.
Was infamous in Hollywood for his Method-style acting, in a time when Marlon Brando was one of its few practitioners. Once, while filming a fight scene with Burt Lancaster, Palance actually punched the unsuspecting Lancaster in the face. Tough guy Lancaster responded by socking Palance in the gut, causing him to vomit.
Despite all of his film work, Palance will forever be remembered for turning an Oscar acceptance speech into an uproarious display of his physical agility. While accepting his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for City Slickers (1991) at the 64th Annual Academy Awards (1992) he commented on the casting directors thinking they can make a younger guy look older, while they wouldn't know that an old guy did this at nights: he then flopped down on the floor and began doing a series of one-handed push-ups, stood up, spoke calmly further, even adding a slightly risqué joke. Afterwards, when he was asked about the stunt, he simply said, "I didn't know what the hell else to do." A year later, when he provided the voice of Rothbart in The Swan Princess (1994), his character is featured doing one-handed push-ups.
Was an avid painter and poet.
Brother of Ivan Palance, John Palance and Anne Palance.
Studied acting with Michael Chekhov in Hollywood.
Grandfather of Lily Palance, Spencer Palance and Tarquin Palance.
Was a vegetarian but maintained a 1000-acre cattle ranch in California's Tehachapi Mountains and a 500-acre farm in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. His ranch brand was an "H" with a "B" and a "C" woven around it, the initials of the first names of his children, Holly, Brooke and Cody.
Shortly before his death in 2006, he put his farmhouse near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and its contents up for sale. Thousands of items were auctioned off and more than $700,000 was raised.
On a nationally televised talk show, Palance addressed the oft repeated story about how he supposedly had such damage done to his face that plastic surgery gave him the face we all know. He said, "I know I'm no beauty, but these are the Estonian features I was born with.".
Was Stephen King's choice of preference for the (similarly named, coincidentally or not) role of Jack Torrance in The Shining (1980).
Turned down Telly Savalas' role in The Dirty Dozen (1967) because he believed the film had too much unnecessary violence.
Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) (Actors Branch).
Was offered the role of Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), which went to Christopher Lee.
Received a special tribute as part of the Annual Memorial tribute at The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007).
Desperately wanted the role of Kid Sheleen in Cat Ballou (1965), which he was never offered.
The comic book villain Phil Defer (Phil Wire in the English version) from Lucky Luke contre Phil Defer (1956) is based on Palance's famous evil gunslinger Jack Wilson from Shane (1953).
Director Elia Kazan promised to cast him as Marlon Brando's brother in Viva Zapata! (1952), but then changed his mind and cast Anthony Quinn instead. Quinn won a Best Supporting Oscar for the film and Palance never spoke to Kazan again.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Palance was a professional boxer in the heavyweight class, fighting under the name Jack Brazzo. He won his first 15 fights, then enlisted in the military when World War II broke out. After the war, he took up acting and never resumed his boxing career.
He pronounced his last name "PAL-unse" not "pah-LAHNSE" as some people believe.
His physical likeness inspired the appearance of DC Comics' supervillain Darkseid who regularly fought Superman.
He was a lifelong staunch Republican and conservative.
According to Billy Crystal, Charles Bronson turned down the role of Curly Washburn in City Slickers (1991) in an unseemly way which he reveals in his 2013 book "Still Foolin' Em". Palance ended up receiving an Academy Award for this role.
In the scene where Palance hits Richard Widmark on the head with a gun in Panic in the Streets (1950), the actors rehearsed it with a rubber gun, but when the cameras rolled Palance substituted a real gun. Widmark, who wasn't expecting it, was out for 20 minutes. Widmark said about the incident, "Why did he switch? Who knows?" In a 1986 interview also recalled how Palance got into the mood of his character by beating on flunky Zero Mostel off-screen. A black-and-blue Mostel had to go to the hospital after his first week on the movie. "They had to soak him in epsom pads.".
Richard Widmark on working with Palance on the latter's movie debut in Panic in the Streets (1950): " . . . the toughest guy I ever met. He was the only actor I've ever been physically afraid of.".
He had two roles in common with his Tales of the Haunted (1981) co-star Christopher Lee: (1) Lee played Count Dracula in ten films from Horror of Dracula (1958) to Dracula and Son (1976) while Palance played him in Dracula (1974) and (2) Palance played Dr. Edward Hyde / Mr. Henry Jekyll in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968) while Lee played renamed versions of the character(s), Dr. Charles Marlowe and Mr. Edward Blake, in I, Monster (1971).
He had two roles in common with his The McMasters (1970) co-star John Carradine: (1) Carradine played Count Dracula in House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945), Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1966) and Nocturna (1979) while Palance played him in Dracula (1974) and (2) Carradine played Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (1947) while Palance played him in Ebenezer (1998).
On February 12, 2019, he was honored with a sketch of the day caricature on the Greg Joens website.
Had a reputation for displaying a quick temper on set and would intimidate other actors on the set, according to eyewitnesses.

Personal Quotes (8)

The only two things you can truly depend upon are gravity and greed.
I'm amazed people read this crap about us--about me most of all.
One of the most important reasons for living is to do something--live outside of yourself and put together an idea, an idea that you want to explore and then complete. Awaken your creative sensitivities!
[on his aircraft accident in World War II when his bomber crashed and burned, in which he received severe head injuries and required major facial reconstruction] There are some moments you never get over. That was one of them.
[In 1994] I used to be 6' 4". Now that I'm old, I slouch. So I'm 6' 3".
Most of the stuff I do is garbage.
I go to see maybe seven films a year at the most, and since I only go to see the best, it follows that I very rarely see my own.
[on filming Without Warning (1980)] I don't particularly care for the so-called Method style of acting, but I was madder than hell at that alien.

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