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Alan Arkin (1934)

Alan Wolf Arkin

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  Summary  

Alan Wolf Arkin is an American actor, director, musician and singer. He is known for starring in such films as Wait Until Dark, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Catch-22, The In-Laws, Edward Scissorhands, Glengarry Glen Ross, Marley & Me, and Little Miss Sunshine, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2007. He is the father of actors Adam Arkin, Anthony Arkin, and Matthew Arkin.

  Biography  

 personal life
Arkin was born in Brooklyn, New York City, the son of Beatrice (née Wortis), a teacher, and David I. Arkin, a painter and writer who mostly worked as a teacher. Arkin was raised in a Jewish family with "no emphasis on religion"; his maternal grandfather was an immigrant from Odessa, Ukraine. The family moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles when Arkin was 11 years old, but an eight-month Hollywood strike cost Arkin's father a set designer job he had wanted to take. During the 1950s Red Scare, Arkin's parents were accused of being Communists, which led to David losing his job when he refused to answer questions about his political affiliation. David challenged the dismissal and was ultimately vindicated, but only after his death.

Arkin has been married three times. He and Jeremy Yaffe, to whom he was married from 1955 to 1960, have two sons: Adam Arkin, born August 19, 1956, and Matthew Arkin, born in 1960. In 1967, Arkin had son Anthony Dana Arkin with actress-screenwriter Barbara Dana , to whom he was married from June 16, 1964 to the mid-1990s. In 1996, Arkin married a psychotherapist, Suzanne Newlander. As of 2007, they live in New Mexico.

He is the first cousin of children's author Edward Irving Wortis, who is better known by his pen name Avi.

 career
 Early work
Arkin, who had been taking acting lessons since age 10, became a scholarship student at various drama academies, including one run by the Stanislavsky student Benjamin Zemach, who taught Arkin a psychological approach to acting. Arkin attended Los Angeles City College from 1951 to 1953. He also attended Bennington College. With two friends, he formed the folk music group The Tarriers, in which Arkin sang and played guitar. The band members co-composed the group's 1956 hit "The Banana Boat Song", a reworking, with some new lyrics, of a traditional, same-name Jamaican calypso folk song combined with another titled "Hill and Gully Rider". It reached #4 on the Billboard magazine chart the same year as Harry Belafonte's better-known hit version.

From 1958 to 1968, Arkin performed and recorded with the children's folk group, The Baby Sitters. He also performed the role of Dr. Pangloss in a concert staging of Leonard Bernstein's operetta Candide, alongside Madeline Kahn's Cunegonde. Arkin was an early member of The Second City comedy troupe in the 1960s. Arkin and his second wife, Barbara Dana, appeared together on the 1970–71 season of Sesame Street as a comical couple named Larry and Phyllis who resolve their conflicts when they remember how to pronounce the word "cooperate." In 1985, he sang two selections by Jones & Schmidt on Ben Bagley's album Contemporary Broadway Revisited.

 Acting
Arkin is one of only six actors to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his first screen appearance . Two years later, he was again nominated, for The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.

Among the films for which he has garnered the most favorable critical attention are his Oscar-nominated turns above; Wait Until Dark, as the erudite killer stalking Audrey Hepburn; director Mike Nichols' Catch-22; The Seven-Per-Cent Solution ; writer Jules Feiffer's Little Murders, which Arkin directed; the The In-Laws, co-starring Peter Falk; Glengarry Glen Ross; and Little Miss Sunshine, for which he received his third Oscar nomination, in the category of Best Supporting Actor. On the February 11, 2007 he received a BAFTA Film Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Grandfather Edwin in Little Miss Sunshine. On February 25, 2007, upon winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Arkin, who plays a foul-mouthed grandfather with a taste for heroin said, "More than anything, I'm deeply moved by the open-hearted appreciation our small film has received, which in these fragmented times speaks so openly of the possibility of innocence, growth and connection". At 72 years old, Arkin became the sixth oldest winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. In 2006–07, Arkin was cast in supporting roles in Rendition and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause as Bud Newman (Carol's Dad), starring with Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Judge Reinhold and Wendy Crewson. He also portrayed the Chief of CONTROL in 2008's Get Smart.

On Broadway, Arkin starred in Enter Laughing, for which he won a Tony Award, and Luv. He also directed The Sunshine Boys, among others.

 Directing
Arkin's directorial debut, in 1969, was a 12-minute children's film, People Soup, starring his sons Adam Arkin and Matthew Arkin. Based on a story he had published in the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in the 1950s, People Soup is a fantasy about two boys who experiment with various kitchen ingredients until they concoct a magical soup which transforms them into different animals and objects. The original story had a girl and a boy as its characters, but Arkin changed them to two boys to cast his sons in the film.

Arkin's most acclaimed directorial effort is Little Murders, released in 1971. Written by cartoonist Jules Feiffer, Little Murders is a black comedy film starring Elliott Gould and Marcia Rodd about a girl, Patsy , who brings home her boyfriend, Alfred , to meet her severely dysfunctional family amidst a series of random shootings, garbage strikes and electrical outages ravaging the neighborhood. The film opened to a lukewarm review by Roger Greenspan, and a more positive one by Vincent Canby in the New York Times. Roger Ebert's review in the Chicago Sun Times was more enthusiastic, saying, "One of the reasons it works, and is indeed a definitive reflection of America's darker moods, is that it breaks audiences down into isolated individuals, vulnerable and uncertain."

Arkin also directed Fire Sale , Samuel Beckett Is Coming Soon and Arigo .

 Writing
Arkin is the author of many books, including the children's stories Tony's Hard Work Day , The Lemming Condition , Halfway Through the Door: An Actor's Journey Toward Self and The Clearing . In March 2011, he released his memoir, An Improvised Life.

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    1975

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Alan Arkin", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.