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Jack Palance

Jack Palance

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Also Known As: Walter Palanskie,Vladimir Palahnuik,Walter Palance,Walter Jack Palance,Walter "Jack" Palance Died: November 10, 2006
Born: February 18, 1918 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Lattimer Mines, Pennsylvania Profession: Cast ... actor professional boxer model salesman lifeguard cattle rancher radio repairman short order cook coal miner waiter
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BIOGRAPHY

Tall, powerfully built stage actor whose gaunt, leathery features were first seen on film in 1950, when Elia Kazan, who had previously directed Palance on Broadway in "A Streetcar Named Desire", cast him as a plague-ridden gangster in "Panic in the Streets". With his severe, strongly sculpted cheekbones, beady, piercing eyes and velvety, insinuating line delivery, Palance did manage to achieve star status, though he has usually played menacing, often dangerous or at least harshly unsympathetic types. Palance went on to earn two supporting actor Oscar nominations, as the seemingly affectionate husband of Joan Crawford actually plotting her demise in "Sudden Fear" (1952) and as a particularly nasty gunslinger in "Shane" (1953). Leading roles soon followed, beginning with his recreation of Jack the Ripper for the modest period thriller, "Man in the Attic" (1953). Palance did occasionally manage to play victim as well as victimizer, notably as a blackmailed movie star in Robert Aldrich's adaptation of Clifford Odets' blistering portrait of Hollywood, "The Big Knife" (1955), and in a fine Emmy-winning turn as an unfortunate boxer in Rod Serling's landmark TV play, "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (1956). One of Palance's last really outstanding films from this peak period was the powerful war film, "Attack!" (1956). As the 1960s dawned, routine actioners like "Ten Seconds to Hell" (1959) and "Once a Thief" (1965) became increasingly common. During this time he began appearing in foreign films, and though they included such similar fodder as "Barabbas" (1962), Palance did manage a superb turn as a crass American movie producer in Jean-Luc Godard's "Le Mepris/Contempt" (1963). He also tried TV with the circus-set series, "The Greatest Show on Earth" (1963-64). Palance began alternating supporting roles with leads during the late 60s and early 70s but he kept very busy in mostly action fare including "The Desperados" (1968), "The Horsemen" (1971) and "Oklahoma Crude" (1973). TV work began to increase as well, and Palance clearly enjoyed himself giving unnerving, showmanlike performances in a special presentation of "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1968) and in his first TV-movie, "Dracula" (1974). Palance tried a TV series again with the gritty cop drama, "Bronk" (1975-76) but had better luck bringing a creepy, bemused flair to his hosting duties on "Ripley's Believe It or Not" (1982-86), especially when he taunted audiences to "believe it...or not". He won new audiences with his offbeat performances as a courtly, aging artist in Percy Adlon's cult hit, "Bagdad Cafe" (1987) and as a gruff veteran trail boss leading tenderfoot vacationers on a cattle drive in the mid-life crisis comedy "City Slickers" (1991). The film earned the good-humored veteran actor a supporting Oscar and led to another sprightly performance--at the Academy Award ceremony, where he joked about his ability to keep working as well as his virility and then dropped to the floor to prove it with a series of one-armed push-ups. The inevitable sequel, "City Slickers II: The Search for Curly's Gold" (1994), followed; since the first film killed off Palance's character, Curly, this film featured the feisty actor as Curly's brother.

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