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Salt and Pepper
New York City, New York, USA
Claim to Fame
Actor/Actress, Director, Writer
Has Detailed Data (New)
Profile Bio Text
Biagio Anthony “Ben” Gazzara (born August 28, 1930) is an American actor in television and motion pictures. Gazzara was born in New York City, the son of Italian immigrants Angelina (née Cusumano) and Antonio Gazzara, who was a laborer and carpenter. Gazzara grew up on New York`s tough Lower East Side. He actually lived on E. 29th Street and participated in the drama program at Madison Square Boys and Girls Club located across the street. He Later, attended New York City`s famed Stuyvesant High School. In the 1950s, Gazzara starred in various Broadway productions, most notably Tennessee Williams` Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, directed by Elia Kazan. However, he lost out on the film role to Paul Newman. He was nominated three times for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play—in 1956 for A Hatful of Rain, in 1975 for the paired short plays Hughie and Duet, and in 1977 for a revival of Who`s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opposite Colleen Dewhurst. Gazzara has had a long and varied acting career, with spells as an accomplished director, mostly in television. He joined other Actors Studio members in the 1957 film The Strange One. Then came a high-profile performance as a soldier on trial for avenging his wife`s rape in Otto Preminger`s 1959 classic courtroom drama Anatomy of a Murder. Subsequent screen credits included The Young Doctors (1961), A Rage to Live (1965), The Bridge at Remagen (1969), Capone (1975), Voyage of the Damned (1976), and High Velocity (1976).
Some of the actor`s most-formidable characters were those he created with his friend John Cassavetes in the 1970s. They collaborated for the first time on Cassavetes`s film Husbands (1970), in which he appeared alongside Peter Falk and Cassavetes himself. In The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Gazzara took the leading role of the hapless strip-joint owner, Cosmo Vitelli. A year later, Gazzara starred in yet another Cassavetes-directed movie, Opening Night, as stage director Manny Victor, who struggles with the mentally unstable star of his show, played by Cassavetes`s wife Gena Rowlands. In 1974, he co-starred with Anthony Hopkins in the acclaimed TV mini-series QB VII. In the 1980s, Gazzara could be seen in a variety of movies, such as Saint Jack and They All Laughed (both directed by Peter Bogdanovich), and in a villainous role in the oft-televised Patrick Swayze film Road House, which the actor jokingly says is probably his most-watched performance. He starred with Rowlands in a controversial and critically acclaimed AIDS-themed TV movie An Early Frost (1985), for which he received his third Emmy nomination. Very much in demand for supporting parts, Gazzara appeared in thirty-eight films—many for TV—in the 1990s. He worked with a number of renowned directors, such as the Coen Brothers (The Big Lebowski), Spike Lee (Summer of Sam), David Mamet (The Spanish Prisoner), Walter Hugo Khouri (Forever), Todd Solondz (Happiness), John Turturro (Illuminata), and John McTiernan (The Thomas Crown Affair).
Gazzara was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1999. He lost more than 40 pounds during treatment. Ben has been married three times. In his 2004 autobiography the actor recounts his love affair with actress Audrey Hepburn. They co-starred in two of her final films, "Bloodline" (1979) and "They All Laughed" (1981).
Couple Profile Source
Stuyvesant High School
City College of New York
Full Name at Birth
Biagio Anthony Gazzara
John Cassavetes, Peter Falk
Cause of Death
Biagio Anthony Gazzarra (August 28, 1930 – February 3, 2012), known as Ben Gazzara, was an American film, stage, and Emmy Award winning television actor and director.
Place of Death
New York City, New York, USA
St. Simon Stock High School, Bronx, NY (1948)
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