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John Cassavetes

John Cassavetes

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Also Known As: Died: February 3, 1989
Born: December 9, 1929 Cause of Death: cirrhosis of the liver
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: director, actor, playwright, producer, screenwriter, sports announcer, assistant stage manager, acting teacher

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Primarily known as an actor early in his career, John Cassavetes would later be regarded as one of the most daring and influential filmmakers of the 20th Century, attributed by many as the artist who shaped the current definition of independent film. As a young performer, Cassavetes found his early roles in mainstream productions like "Edge of the City" (1957) creatively unsatisfying. Determined to prove he could do better, he embarked on a three-year odyssey that yielded his debut as a writer-director - the racial identity drama "Shadows" (1959). Though not a commercial hit, "Shadows" earned Cassavetes enough critical acclaim to attract Hollywood, although the resulting films left him chaffing under the control of the studio system. In response, Cassavetes created a system of his own - one in which he would act in major productions like "The Dirty Dozen" (1967) and "Rosemary's Baby" (1968) in order to fund independent endeavors of his own. Over the course of the next 15 years Cassavetes wrote, directed and occasionally performed in such thought-provoking works as "Faces" (1968), "Husbands" (1970), "Minnie and Moskowitz" (1971), "A Woman Under the Influence" (1974), "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie"...

Primarily known as an actor early in his career, John Cassavetes would later be regarded as one of the most daring and influential filmmakers of the 20th Century, attributed by many as the artist who shaped the current definition of independent film. As a young performer, Cassavetes found his early roles in mainstream productions like "Edge of the City" (1957) creatively unsatisfying. Determined to prove he could do better, he embarked on a three-year odyssey that yielded his debut as a writer-director - the racial identity drama "Shadows" (1959). Though not a commercial hit, "Shadows" earned Cassavetes enough critical acclaim to attract Hollywood, although the resulting films left him chaffing under the control of the studio system. In response, Cassavetes created a system of his own - one in which he would act in major productions like "The Dirty Dozen" (1967) and "Rosemary's Baby" (1968) in order to fund independent endeavors of his own. Over the course of the next 15 years Cassavetes wrote, directed and occasionally performed in such thought-provoking works as "Faces" (1968), "Husbands" (1970), "Minnie and Moskowitz" (1971), "A Woman Under the Influence" (1974), "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" (1976), "Gloria" (1980) and "Love Streams" (1984). Each film featured some combination of his frequent acting collaborators, including wife Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara and Seymour Cassel. While professional acting was a mere means to an end, Cassavetes pursued his own artistic truth and provided audiences with new experiences through his deeply personal films.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Big Trouble (1985) Director
2.
  Love Streams (1984) Director
3.
  Gloria (1980) Director
4.
  Opening Night (1977) Director
6.
7.
  Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) Director
8.
  Husbands (1970) Director
9.
  Faces (1968) Director
10.
  A Child Is Waiting (1963) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Constant Forge: The Life and Art of John Cassavetes, A (2001) Himself (Archival Footage)
3.
 Hollywood Mavericks (1990) Himself
4.
 Love Streams (1984) Robert Harmon
6.
 Marvin and Tige (1983) Marvin Stewart
7.
 Tempest (1982) Phillip Dimitrious
8.
 Haircut, The (1982) Himself
9.
 Incubus, The (1982) Dr Sam Cordell
10.
 Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1981) Dr Michael Emerson
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1950:
Professional acting debut with a Providence, Rhode Island stock company
1951:
First film as extra, "14 Hours"
1953:
First film as supporting actor, "Taxi"
1953:
First Broadway play as stage manager, "The Fifth Season"
1953:
Television acting debut in "Paso Doble" on "Omnibus" series
1955:
First film as star, "The Night Holds Terror/Crime in the Streets"
:
Starred in TV series "Johnny Staccato"
:
Taught method acting at Burt Lane's Drama Workshop, NYC
1960:
Film directing debut with "Shadows"
1961:
Hired by Paramount to direct; contract terminated after failure of "Too Late Blues"
1961:
Debut as film producer, "Too Late Blues"
1962:
Directed wife Gena Rowlands in "A Child Is Waiting"; also featured Judy Garland
1967:
Received Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for "The Dirty Dozen"
1968:
Began practice of previewing films on college campuses with "Faces", co-starring Rowlands; earned Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination
1968:
Co-starred as Mia Farrow's husband in the thriller "Rosemary's Baby"
1970:
Directed himself in "Husbands"
1974:
Received Academy Award nomination as Best Director for "A Woman Under the Influence"; film starred Rowlands and Peter Falk; Rowlands also nominated for a Best Actress Oscar
1980:
Debut as playwright, "The East/West Game" produced in Los Angeles
1980:
Helmed "Gloria", with Rowlands as a tough gun moll who reluctantly cares for an orphan
1981:
Refurbished theater in Hollywood ("Center Theater") and built acting company
1986:
Directed final film "Big Trouble"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Colgate University: Hamilton , New York -
Mohawk Valley Community College: Utica , New York -
American Academy of Dramatic Arts: New York , New York - 1950

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Gena Rowlands. Actor. Married from March 19, 1958 until his death February 3, 1989.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Katherine Cassavetes. Actor.
son:
Nicholas Cassavetes. Actor, director, screenwriter. Born in 1959.
daughter:
Alexandra Cassavetes. Songwriter. Born in September 1965.
daughter:
Zoe Cassavetes. Actor, filmmaker, model. Born in June 1970.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Cassavetes on Cassavetes" Faber and Faber
"John Cassavetes: Lifeworks" Omnibus Press

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