50 Facts About Ben Gazzara


Biagio Anthony Ben Gazzara was an American actor and director of film, stage, and television.

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Ben Gazzara received numerous accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award and a Drama Desk Award, in addition to nominations for three Golden Globe Awards and three Tony Awards.

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Ben Gazzara won his only Emmy Award for the television film Hysterical Blindness .

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Ben Gazzara was a recurring collaborator of John Cassavetes, working with him on Husbands, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Opening Night .

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Ben Gazzara had a successful and prolific film career in Europe, particularly Italy, where he worked with preeminent directors like Giuseppe Tornatore, Giuliano Montaldo, Marco Ferreri, and Lars von Trier.

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Ben Gazzara was known for his gritty, naturalistic portrayals of intense, often amoral characters.

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Ben Gazzara was born in New York City, the son of Italian immigrants Angelina and Antonio Ben Gazzara, a laborer and carpenter, each of Sicilian origin—Angelina from Castrofilippo and Antonio from Canicatti in the province of Agrigento.

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Ben Gazzara was raised in a monolingual, Italian-speaking household, and did not learn English until he went to school.

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Ben Gazzara grew up in New York's Kips Bay neighborhood; he lived on East 29th Street.

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Ben Gazzara attended New York City's Stuyvesant High School, but finally graduated from Saint Simon Stock in the Bronx.

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Ben Gazzara went to City College of New York to study electrical engineering.

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Ben Gazzara took classes in acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the influential German director Erwin Piscator and afterward joined the Actors Studio.

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Ben Gazzara guest-starred on shows like Treasury Men in Action and Danger.

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Ben Gazzara received acclaim for his off-Broadway performance in End as a Man in 1953.

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In 1954, Ben Gazzara made several appearances on NBC's legal drama Justice, based on case studies from the Legal Aid Society of New York.

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Ben Gazzara guest-starred on shows such as Medallion Theatre and The United States Steel Hour.

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Ben Gazzara became a Broadway sensation when he portrayed the role of Brick in Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opposite Barbara Bel Geddes, directed by Elia Kazan.

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Ben Gazzara followed it with another long run in A Hatful of Rain .

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Ben Gazzara joined other Actors Studio members in the 1957 film The Strange One produced by Sam Spiegel.

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Ben Gazzara had a Broadway flop with The Night Circus and continued to guest-star on shows like Playhouse 90, Kraft Television Theatre, Armchair Theatre and DuPont Show of the Month.

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Ben Gazzara told Charlie Rose in 1998 that he went from being mainly a stage actor who often would turn up his nose at film roles in the mid-1950s to, much later, a ubiquitous character actor who turned very little down.

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Ben Gazzara went to Italy to make a comedy, The Passionate Thief, with Anna Magnani and Toto.

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Ben Gazzara returned to Italy to make The Captive City with David Niven.

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Ben Gazzara was in the 1963 Actors Studio production of Strange Interlude on Broadway.

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Ben Gazzara became well known in several television series, beginning with Arrest and Trial, which ran from 1963 to 1964 on ABC.

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Ben Gazzara appeared in the TV special A Carol for Another Christmas and had a short Broadway run in A Traveller without Luggage in 1964.

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Ben Gazzara was the male lead in A Rage to Live with Suzanne Pleshette.

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Ben Gazzara gained fame in the TV series Run for Your Life which ran from 1965 to 1968 on NBC, in which he played a terminally ill man trying to get the most out of the last two years of his life.

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Ben Gazzara starred in a television movie, Pursuit, the directorial debut of Michael Crichton.

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Ben Gazzara made the television movies When Michael Calls, Fireball Forward, and The Family Rico .

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Ben Gazzara made The Sicilian Connection in Italy, and did a science fiction film The Neptune Factor .

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Ben Gazzara starred in the television miniseries QB VII, which won six primetime Emmy Awards.

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Ben Gazzara then played gangster Al Capone in the biographical film Capone .

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Ben Gazzara appeared on Broadway in Hughie then worked again for Cassavetes as director in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, in which Ben Gazzara took the leading role of the hapless strip-joint owner, Cosmo Vitelli.

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Ben Gazzara starred in an action movie, High Velocity, and was one of many stars in Voyage of the Damned .

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Ben Gazzara's career received a boost when Peter Bogdanovich cast him in the title role of Saint Jack .

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Ben Gazzara's increased profile helped him be cast in the male lead of Bloodline and the Korean War epic Inchon co-starring Laurence Olivier and Richard Roundtree.

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Ben Gazzara made some films in Europe: Tales of Ordinary Madness, The Girl from Trieste, A Proper Scandal, My Dearest Son .

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Ben Gazzara starred with Rowlands in the critically acclaimed AIDS-themed TV movie An Early Frost, for which he received his third Emmy nomination.

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Ben Gazzara had a villainous role in the oft-televised Patrick Swayze film Road House, which the actor jokingly said is probably his most-watched performance.

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Ben Gazzara appeared in 38 films, many for television, in the 1990s.

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Ben Gazzara worked with a number of renowned directors, such as the Coen brothers, Spike Lee, David Mamet, Walter Hugo Khouri, Vincent Gallo, Todd Solondz, John Turturro, and John McTiernan .

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Ben Gazzara was in the ensemble cast of the experimental film Dogville, directed by Lars von Trier of Denmark and starring Nicole Kidman, as well as the television film Hysterical Blindness .

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Ben Gazzara completed filming his scenes in the film The Wait in early 2012, shortly before his death.

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Ben Gazzara was married three times, first to actress Louise Erickson .

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Ben Gazzara married model Elke Krivat in 1982 and remained married to her until his death.

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Ben Gazzara adopted his wife's daughter Danja from her prior relationship.

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Ben Gazzara was the honorary starter of the 1979 Daytona 500, the first flag-to-flag Daytona 500 broadcast live on CBS.

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Ben Gazzara was featured in a 1994 article in Cigar Aficionado, in which he admitted smoking four packs of cigarettes a day until taking up cigar smoking in the mid-1960s.

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Ben Gazzara maintained a second home in Umbria, where he lived while working in Europe.

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