Eli Wallach (1915-2014)

I can’t remember the first time I saw Eli Wallach on TV or in a movie.  He just always seemed to be there.  He was an actor who captured your attention, whether playing a good guy or a bad guy or just an ordinary guy.

Wallach began his career in his hometown of New York at the renowned Neighborhood Playhouse.  World War II interrupted his acting studies when he was drafted into the Army.  But he returned to the career that captured his heart.  It was during that time that he met fellow student Anne Jackson.  They married in 1948.  Wallach and Jackson were founding members of the Actors Studio, working alongside other actors who would soon make their names known: Marlon Brando, Montgomery Cliff, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, James Dean.

Wallach made his Broadway debut in 1945 and won a Tony Award for The Rose Tattoo in 1951.  He worked in early television series, and by 1956, he was in Hollywood, making his movie debut in Baby Doll.  His most well-known roles came in the westerns The Magnificent Seven and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

It seems that he never stopped working.  If he wasn’t making a movie, he was on stage.  If not on stage, he was on television.  Often Wallach and Jackson worked together, mostly in plays but also in films.  In 2005, he wrote his autobiography, The Good, the Bad, and Me: In My Anecdotage, recounting years in entertainment and the joy he took in acting.  Most recently, Wallach did several movies, easily stealing scenes from younger actors – and endearing himself to a new generation of moviegoers.  In 2010, Wallach received an Honorary Academy Award, a recognition long overdue.  And this week, we lost this remarkably talented actor.

If you’d like watch some of the movies made by Wallach, check out the list below.

Baby Doll (1956)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
The Misfits (1961)
The Moon-spinners (1964)
How to Steal a Million (1966)
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
The Godfather III (1990)
Mystic River (2003)
The Hoax (2006)
The Holiday (2006)
Mama’s Boy (2007)
New York, I Love You (2008)
The Ghost Writer (2010)
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)