||"Having the critics praise you is like having the hangman say you've got a pretty neck."
Today we celebrate the birth of actor, Eli Wallach—born on this date in 1915. One of Hollywood's finest character actors—called
"the quintessential chameleon" by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences— he remained a popular actor for more than fifty years.
Wallach made his big-screen debut in the 1956 film version of the Tennessee Williams play, Baby Doll. He won a BAFTA Award and received a
Golden Globe nomination for his performance. In 1960, he played the Mexican bandit, Calvera, opposite Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen,
Robert Vaughn, and Charles Bronson (see
previous post) in The Magnificent Seven. Wallach would go on to appear in numerous film roles throughout the 1960's, including
The Misfits (1961), How the West Was Won (1962), The Victors (1963), and the sea epic Lord Jim (1965).
In 1966, Italian director Sergio Leone cast Wallach as the two-faced, money-hungry bandit "Tuco" in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Wallach had several television performances during this era as well. In the 1960's, he appeared in Outlaws, Naked City, and
CBS Playhouse. He also had a recurring role as DC Comics' supervillain, Mr. Freeze, in the Batman series. In the 1970's
he performed in
The Typists (1971), A Cold Night's Death (1973), Indict and Convict (1974), as well as in numerous
other roles on television series such as Kojak.
In 1990, Wallach was cast as the candy-addicted Don Altabello in The Godfather: Part III (1990). The same year, he appeared with Jack
The Two Jakes. He kept up his television work as well, appearing in TV movies such as Legacy of Lies (1992) and
Naked City (1998), and playing guest roles in series such as Law and Order.
In 2002, Wallach appeared in Monday Night Mayhem, a TV movie about the creation of ABC's Monday Night Football broadcast.
He had an uncredited role as a liquor store owner in Mystic River (2003), and appeared in the 2005 romance, A Taste of Jupiter.
In 2006, he appeared with Richard Gere and Alfred Molina in The Hoax, and with Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, and Jack Black in
The Holiday. In 2007, Wallach performed in the slacker comedy, Mama's Boy with Diane Keaton and Jeff Daniels. In 2010, he
had roles in
The Ghost Writer and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
In November 2010, at the age of 94, Wallach received an Honorary Academy Award for his contribution to the film industry from the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He had more than 160 screen credits. Although he never received an Oscar nomination for any of his roles, he was
nominated for five Primetime Emmys over the years, winning one for his performance in the 1966 TV movie, Poppies Are Also Flowers.
In early 2005, he published his much anticipated autobiography, The Good, The Bad And Me: In My Anecdotage. Eli Wallach passed away in
June 2014, at the age of 98.
Check out an Eli Wallach DVD
at your Pinal County Libraries!