Rod Steiger

Rod Steiger

actor, soundtrack

Rodney Stephen Steiger was born in Westhampton, New York, to Augusta Amelia (Driver) and Frederick Jacob Steiger, both vaudevillians. He was of German and Austrian ancestry. After his parents' divorce, Steiger was raised by his mother in Newark, New Jersey. He dropped out of Westside High school at age 16 and joined the Navy. He saw action in the Pacific on a destroyer. Steiger returned to New Jersey after the war and worked for the VA. He was part of an amateur acting group, and then joined the Actors' Studio using his GI Bill benefits.Steiger received his first film roles in the early 1950s. His first major one was in Térésa (1951), but his first lead role was in the TV version of The Philco Television Playhouse: Marty (1953). The movie version, however, had Ernest Borgnine in the lead and won him an Academy Award. Steiger's breakthrough role came in 1954, with the classic Sur les quais... (1954). Since then he has been a presence on the screen as everything from a popular leading man to a little-known character actor. Steiger made a name for himself in many different types of roles, from a crooked promoter in Plus dure sera la chute (1956) to the title character in Al Capone (1959). He was one of dozens of stars in the epic World War II film Le jour le plus long (1962). In 1964, he received his second Oscar nomination for Le prêteur sur gages (1964). The next couple of years he was at the height of his powers. In 1965, he starred in the dark comedy Le cher disparu (1965), and in David Lean's epic Le docteur Jivago (1965). In 1966, he starred in the BBC Play of the Month (1965) episode "Death of a Salesman" as Willy Loman in the TV version of his stage play "Death of a Salesman," but in 1967, he landed what many consider his greatest role: Sheriff Bill Gillespie in Dans la chaleur de la nuit (1967), opposite Sidney Poitier. Steiger deservedly took home the Best Actor Oscar for his work in that film.He took another controversial role as a man with many tattoos in L'homme tatoué (1969) and as a serial killer in the classic Le Refroidisseur de dames (1968). After that, he seemed to have withdrawn from high-profile movies and became more selective in the roles he chose. He turned down the lead in Patton (1970) and also in Le Parrain (1972). Among his more notable roles in the 1970s are Happy Birthday, Wanda June (1971), Une fille nommée Lolly Madonna (1973), as Benito Mussolini in Les derniers jours de Mussolini (1974), Portrait of a Hitman (1979), Jésus de Nazareth (1977), F.I.S.T (1978) and Amityville : La Maison du diable (1979). He starred in the critically acclaimed L'élu (1981) with Robby Benson and Maximilian Schell, perhaps the highlight of his 1980s movie career. Steiger increasingly moved away from the big Hollywood pictures, instead taking roles in foreign productions and independent movies. As the 1980s ended, Steiger landed a role as the buttoned-up New York City Chief of Police in Calendrier meurtrier (1989).Steiger was seriously affected by depression for 8 years. As he returned to the screen in the late 1990s he began creating some of his most memorable roles. He was the doctor in the independently-made movie Shiloh (1996), about an abused dog. He was the crazed, kill-'em-all army general in Mars Attacks! (1996) who always called his enemies peace-mongers. He took a small part as a Supreme Court judge in Hurricane Carter (1999) and as a preacher in the badly produced film La fin des temps (1999). He was still active in films moving into the new millennium.

  • Birthday

    Apr 14, 1925
  • Place of Birth

    Westhampton, New York, USA

Known For

Awards

23 wins & 17 nominations

Atlantic City Film Festival
2002
Posthumously.
Winner - Lifetime Achievement Award
Marco Island Film Festival
2002
Winner - Lifetime Achievement Award
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Movies & TV Shows

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