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John Garfield Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (28)  | Personal Quotes (5)

Overview (5)

Born in New York City, New York, USA
Died in New York City, New York, USA  (coronary thrombosis)
Birth NameJacob Julius Garfinkle
Nickname Julie
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

John Garfield was born Jacob Julius Garfinkle on the Lower East Side of New York City, to Hannah Basia (Margolis) and David Garfinkle, who were Jewish immigrants from Zhytomyr (now in Ukraine). Jules was raised by his father, a clothes presser and part-time cantor, after his mother's death in 1920, when he was 7. He was sent to a special school for problem children, where he was introduced to boxing and drama. He won a scholarship to Maria Ouspenskaya's drama school. He joined the Civic Repertory Theatre in 1932, changing his name to Jules Garfield and making his Broadway debut in that company's Counsellor-at-Law. Joined the Group Theatre company, winning acclaim for his role in Awake and Sing. Embittered over being passed over for the lead in Golden Boy, which was written for him, he signed a contract with Warner Brothers, who changed his name to John Garfield. Won enormous praise for his role of the cynical Mickey Borden in Four Daughters (1938). Appeared in similar roles throughout his career despite his efforts to play varied parts. Children Katherine (1938-1945), David Garfield (1942-1995) and Julie Garfield (1946-). Active in liberal political and social causes, he found himself embroiled in Communist scare of the late 1940s. Though he testified before Congress that he was never a Communist, his ability to get work declined. While separated from his wife, he succumbed to long-term heart problems, dying suddenly in the home of a woman friend at 39. His funeral was mobbed by thousands of fans, in the largest funeral attendance for an actor since Rudolph Valentino.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (1)

Roberta Seidman (27 January 1935 - 21 May 1952) ( his death) ( 3 children)

Trivia (28)

Father of actors David Garfield and Julie Garfield.
Comforted Sidney Poitier on his first plane ride by telling him to put a handkerchief over his face and think about nothing.
Won a state-wide oratory contest sponsored by the New York Times as a boy with Benjamin Franklin as his subject.
Was producer Irene Mayer Selznick's first choice to play Stanley Kowalski in the Broadway premiere of "A Streetcar Named Desire.".
Wife Roberta Seidman was his childhood sweetheart.
His six-year-old daughter Katharine died of an allergic reaction in 1945. He never got over the loss.
When his Warner Bros. contract expired in 1946, he did not re-sign with the studio, opting to start his own independent production company instead. He was one of the first Hollywood actors to do so.
Blacklisted during the McCarthy "Red Scare" era in the early 1950s for his left-wing political beliefs, he adamantly refused to "name names" in testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in April 1951. He was found dead of a heart attack in the apartment of a former showgirl, Iris Whitney on May 21, 1952, the day after Clifford Odets, testifying before HUAC, reaffirmed that Garfield had never been a member of the Communist Party. His funeral in New York was mobbed by thousands of fans.
Buried at Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York
Garfield's widow Roberta married labor lawyer Sidney Cohn in 1954. He died in 1991 and Roberta Garfield Cohn died of Alzheimer's Disease in January 2004.
Was Nelson Algren's choice to play Frankie Machine in the film version (The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)) of Algren's novel "The Man With the Golden Arm".
Parents were Russian immigrants, David and Hannah Garfinkle. Although his father was a presser in a factory during the week, he was also a cantor on weekends and holy days.
When he turned down the chance to play the male lead on Broadway in "A Streetcar Named Desire," the part written originally by Tennessee Williams for an Italian-American was rewritten for a Polish-American to accommodate the blonde looks of the then unknown Marlon Brando. Brando's performance made him a star.
The role of Bill Sampson in All About Eve (1950) was originally intended for him, but Gary Merrill was cast instead.
The role of Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (1954) was originally written for Garfield, but he died before the film was made.
On May 26, 1949, he was a guest on NBC radio's "Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Show".
Garfield was a guest on Ed Sullivan's The Ed Sullivan Show: Episode #2.15 (1948) and quipped that the large TV cameras of this new medium were frightening.
In his only TV appearance, Garfield played Joe Bonaparte and Kim Stanley played Lorna Moon in a scene from Clifford Odets' play "Golden Boy" on Cavalcade of Stars: Episode #1.53 (1950). The role had been written for him by Odets, but when the play was first produced by the Group Theatre in 1938, the powers that be decided Garfield wasn't "ready" to play the role of the young violinist turned boxer. Luther Adler subsequently created the role. Garfield finally played the role on Broadway in 1951, a few months before his premature death from a heart attack.
According to her best-selling autobiography, "The Gift Horse", German actress Hildegard Knef was the last person Garfield spoke to before his death.
On Piers Morgan Tonight: Episode dated 11 July 2012 (2012), to promote his autobiography, Robert Blake related that when he was playing John Garfield as a boy in Humoresque (1946), there was a scene he could not get right. Garfield cleared the set and directed Blake himself. After the scene was finished, Garfield told the nine-year-old. "Robert, remember this for the rest of your life. Your life is a rehearsal. Your performance is real.".
He was born on the same day that Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated as the 28th President of the United States (March 4, 1913).
Favorite movie star of Alain Delon.
Was a semifinalist in a Golden Gloves tournament.
He landed a nonpaying job at Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory, where he was recommended to legendary acting teachers Maria Ouspenskaya and Richard Boleslawski.
Because both Garfield and his wife did not want to "go Hollywood," he had a clause in his Warner contract that allowed him to perform in a legitimate play every year at his option, and they refused to own a home in Tinseltown.
Garfield was one of Warner Bros' most suspended stars, having been suspended 11 times during his nine years at the studio.
A week before his fatal heart attack Garfield had separated from his wife, and hours before his death he completed a statement modifying his 1951 testimony about his Communist affiliations. Garfield was the fourth actor to die after being subjected to HUAC investigation. The others were Mady Christians (at 59), J. Edward Bromberg (at 47) and Canada Lee (at 45).

Personal Quotes (5)

Screen acting is my business but I get my kicks from Broadway.
[In September 1947 "Screenland"] England has been praised for turning out intelligent, adult pictures whereas Hollywood has been severely censured for turning out junk. I don't think criticism is a valid one because, in defense of Hollywood, we have censorship problems England doesn't have. I'm not speaking of the license to do sexy stuff. I'm speaking of the license to present adult ideas and viewpoints, which we lack and which means in turn that many of our pictures lack intelligent content.
No actor can really be good until he's reached forty. [He died at 39.]
[on his relationship with Warner Bros.] I was suspended "only" 11 times. I served my time and took it like a sport . . .They taught me the business, and they made me a star. They took their chances with a cocky kid from the East who still talked out of the corner of his mouth. I appreciate all that.
[on his past associations with "progressive" causes] Actors are emotional. If somebody would come up to us and say, "Sign here. Everybody's doing it for civil liberties", or "Sign here to save the bread of children of writers banned from the studios because of their political beliefs", I would sign because it was a right cause in which I believed.

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