Date of Birth: 14 April 1925
Rod Steiger biography:
He was offered the title role in Patton (1970) but refused it, saying, "I'm not going to glorify war". The role was then given to George C. Scott, who won the Oscar for it. Steiger calls this refusal his "dumbest career move". 4/10/97: Honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It's located at 7080 Hollywood Blvd. He has a daughter with Claire Bloom, and a son with Paula Ellis. Received the Gift of Life Award after tirelessly speaking out against the social stigma against mental disease, from which he suffered for many years. His daughter, Anna Steiger, is an opera singer. He had an operatic voice; however, he had no ear for keeping in the same key, rendering his singing voice almost useless. He's always said that the favorite of all his films was The Pawnbroker (1964). Enjoyed playing historical figures. Is listed as the Centre of the Hollywood Universe by the University of Virginia's Oracle of Kevin Bacon. He can be linked to any other movie actor in the classic Kevin Bacon-game style in an average of 2.651 steps. Served in the United States Navy in the Pacific during World War II. Steiger, who originated the role of "Marty" in the eponymous TV production Marty (1953) (TV), said that he turned down the role in the 1955 movie production as the Hill-Hecht-Lancaster Productions contract would have bound him for years. Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster, on their part, said that they did not want to cast Steiger as they felt the public would not go for the same actor that they had seen for free on TV. He told Robert Osborne during an interview on Turner Classic Movies that when he was in the Navy during World War Two, he used to sing when it was his turn to stand watch on-board ship. The ship's captain, overhearing him one night, put a stop to his impromptu performances. After he played Jud Fry in Oklahoma! (1955), producer David O. Selznick wanted to sign him to a long-term contract and possibly star him in the lead of his proposed remake of Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms" opposite David O. Selznick's wife, Jennifer Jones. "But I told him that I must have the right to chose my own mistakes", Steiger told his biographer, Tom Hutchinson. "His face fell - he couldn't believe anyone would refuse him. Neither could my agents!". Most of the solo shots of Steiger during the famous taxicab scene in On the Waterfront (1954) were done after Marlon Brando had left for the day. Brando had it in his contract that he could finish shooting before the normal quitting time so that he could make his daily session with his psychiatrist. Steiger was deeply hurt and annoyed at Brando's rudeness and lack of courtesy to a fellow actor, as it was customary, in a two-shot, for an actor in close-up to be fed his lines by the other actor or for the other actor to just be there so the first actor would have him him or her to play to. Steiger used his negative emotions to enhance his performance, and though he paid tribute to Brando as a great actor, he personally loathed him thereafter. Director Elia Kazan stood in for Brando in the back of the cab so Steiger would have someone to emote to. Shortly before his death, Steiger had undergone surgery for a (presumably malignant) gall bladder tumor. Campaigned vigorously for a role in The Godfather (1972), which began shooting in early 1971, three years after Steiger had reached the top of his craft, receiving the Academy Award for Best Actor his role as the sheriff in In the Heat of the Night (1967). Surprisingly, the role Steiger wanted was not the title role of Don Vito Corleone (eventually played by his On the Waterfront (1954) co-star Marlon Brando, but the role of Michael Corleone, the Don's youngest son. Paramount executives found his desire to be bizarre as he was much too old for the part and turned him down without even a screen-test. Won the part of Viktor Komarovsky in Doctor Zhivago (1965) only after two other actors turned the part down. After a month went by with Marlon Brando failing to respond to director David Lean's written inquiry into whether he wanted to play Komarovsky, Lean offered the part to James Mason, who was a generation older than Brando, because he did not want an actor who would overpower the character of Yuri Zhivago (specifically, to show Zhivago up as a lover of Lara, who would be played by the young Julie Christie, which the charismatic Brando might have done, shifting the sympathy of the audience). Mason initially accepted thee part, but eventually dropped out and Steiger was given the role. He was honored with being chosen as one of AFI's 50 stars of the second half of the 20th century. 1976: Fell into a deep depression after undergoing triple heart bypass surgery. Was not the first choice to play the role of Sheriff Gillespie in the 1967 Best Picture Academy Award-winner In the Heat of the Night (1967), for which Steiger won the Best Actor Oscar. The part was first offered to George C. Scott, who accepted, according to producer Walter Mirisch's memoir "I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History." Scott backed out when his wife Colleen Dewhurst wanted him to direct her in a play on Broadway. Ironically, Steiger later turned down the lead in Patton (1970) that went to Scott, which brought him his own Best Actor Oscar. Member of Handgun Control Inc. Tuned down George C. Scott's Oscar-winning role in Patton (1970) because he didn't want to glorify war. Steiger later admitted he had made a big mistake.