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Seymour Cassel

Seymour Cassel

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: January 22, 1935 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Detroit, Michigan, USA Profession: Cast ... actor director producer
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BIOGRAPHY

A blond, often mustachioed, and scruffy character player best known as an integral member of John Cassavetes' informal clan of actors, Seymour Cassel received an early introduction to show business, traveling with a troupe of touring burlesque performers that included his mother. After living for several years in Panama, where his family owned a nightclub, he moved to NYC to pursue an acting career, studying with the American Theatre Wing and with Lee Strasberg's famed Actors Studio. Cassel met Cassavetes at the future director's 46th Street acting workshop in 1957, eventually teaching alongside him and serving as associate producer on Cassavetes' directorial debut, "Shadows" (1960). A versatile, engaging talent, Cassel made the first of seven appearances for Cassavetes in "Too Late Blues" (1961) and also acted three times under director Don Siegel. He first achieved prominence as an aging hippie street hustler who saves a middle-aged housewife (Lynn Carlin) from suicide in Cassavetes' "Faces" (1968), earning an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. His largest role for Cassavetes came as yet another hippie opposite the director's wife Gena Rowlands in "Minnie and Moskowitz" (1971), a kitchen sink romantic comedy with roles galore for Cassel and Cassavetes family members.

Cassel went on to fashion a prolific career, splitting his time between big Hollywood pictures and independent features in the spirit of Cassavetes. He delivered a colorful supporting turn as Cheese, one of the "Tin Men" (1987), appeared as Sam Catchem in "Dick Tracy" (1990) and paid tribute to Gabby Hayes as Skunker, Klaus Maria Brandauer's prospecting pal in "White Fang" (1991), a film which introduced him to executive producer Andrew Bergman. After stealing the show from Steve Buscemi as the over-the-top, fast-talking hood of Alexandre Rockwell's indie "In the Soup" (1992), he teamed with director Bergman for first "Honeymoon in Las Vegas" (also 1992) and later "It Could Happen to You" (1994), both starring Nicolas Cage. Other memorable 90s films include Adrian Lyne's "Indecent Proposal" (1993, as Robert Redford's chauffeur), Buscemi's directing debut "Trees Lounge" (1996, playing Uncle Al) and Wes Anderson's "Rushmore" (1998, as Jason Schwartzman's barber father.)

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