Venerable character actor Eli Wallach dies at 98
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/25/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
A founding member of the Actors Studio, Eli Wallach worked in theater, film and television for over six decades. He made a breakout impression as a bumbling Mexican bandit in the 1966 spaghetti Western "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." Wallach has died at the age of 98.
As Tuco, "the ugly" in 1966's "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," actor Eli Wallach left an indelible impression as a bumbling Mexican banditio opposite Clint Eastwood.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - His death was confirmed by his daughter Katherine. Wallach often worked with his wife, Anne Jackson, usually onstage.
Born on Dec. 7, 1915, Wallach graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn and attended the University of Texas at Austin. The son of Polish Jewish immigrants who lived in an Italian neighborhood in New York, Wallach returned to New York after graduation where he earned a master's degree in education at City College.
In lieu of pursuing a career in education, he studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse until serving in the Army's Medical Corps for five years during World War II.
Wallach made his Broadway debut in "Skydrift," which had a one-week run in 1945. He joined Elia Kazan in 1948 in starting the Actors Studio, where he studied with Lee Strasberg.
Wallach's first big break occurred in the late 1940s with a role in "Mister Roberts," which he played until 1951 when Tennessee Williams cast him opposite Stapleton in "The Rose Tattoo," for which he won a Tony, according to Variety.
Wallach's film career included such major titles as "The Magnificent Seven," "How to Steal a Million." He made a late screen comeback in 2010 in "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." Wallach received an honorary Academy Award in 2010 for "a lifetime's worth of indelible screen characters."
Many think Wallach's definitive role was Calvera, the bandit chief in "The Magnificent Seven." Others preferred him in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," as Tuco opposite Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's classic spaghetti Western. Wallach complained that strangers would start whistling the theme from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" when they saw him.
In the movies, Wallach usually play mustachioed characters who were lawless, evil or just plain nasty, which puzzled and challenged him. "Actually I lead a dual life," he once said. "In the theater, I'm the little man, or the irritated man, the misunderstood man," whereas in films "I do seem to keep getting cast as the bad guys." His villain roles, he said, tended to be "more complex" than some of his stage roles.
With his illustrious career in TV and film, Wallach couldn't imagine leaving the theater. "What else am I going to do?" he asked in an interview with the Times in 1997. "I love to act."
"For actors, movies are a means to an end," Wallach said in an interview with The New York Times in 1973. "I go and get on a horse in Spain for 10 weeks, and I have enough cushion to come back and do a play."
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