skip navigation
Alan Arkin

Alan Arkin

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself... Mexico's most notorious revolutionary goes Hollywood in the historical satire... more info $5.98was $5.98 Buy Now

Marley & Me DVD Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson bring John Grogan's bestselling memoir lovingly... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now

Little Miss Sunshine DVD When a pudgy, bespectacled seven-year-old, Olive (Abigail Breslin), voices her... more info $9.98was $9.98 Buy Now

Firewall DVD Descend into a world of high tech trickery and deception in the cyber thriller... more info $5.98was $5.98 Buy Now

Doomsday Gun DVD In this tense, explosive thriller, Frank Langella is Gerald Bull, a scientist... more info $19.98was $19.98 Buy Now

Johnny Depp Triple Feature... Disc 1: BENNY AND JOON WSDisc 2: EDWARD SCISSORHANDS 10TH ANNIVERSARY WSDisc 3:... more info $19.98was $19.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Alan Wolf Arkin, Robert Short Died:
Born: March 26, 1934 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: actor, director, novelist, singer, producer, composer, vacuum cleaner repairman, clerical worker

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An extremely versatile character actor who easily oscillated between comedy and drama, Alan Arkin struggled for several years as a theater actor until the early 1960s when he caught his first break by joining the famed comedy troupe, The Second City. With his career officially started, he made a huge impression with an Oscar-nominated performance in Norman Jewison's raucous Cold War comedy, "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming" (1966), a film that put Arkin on the map for good. He did take a step backwards with a leading role in "Catch-22" (1970), thanks to the expected hit becoming a flop. After spending several years making rather forgettable comedies, Arkin finally rebounded with "The In-Laws" (1979), and spent the next decade bouncing around from television to film to stage. Following a notable turn in "Edward Scissorhands" (1990), he delivered a standout performance as a meek salesman in "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1992). Arkin went on to a greater diversity of roles with "Jeryky Boys: The Movie" (1995), "Grosse Point Blank" (1997), "Four Days in September" (1997), "The Slums of Beverly Hills" (1998) and "The Pentagon Papers" (FX, 2003). He received deserved accolades for his...

An extremely versatile character actor who easily oscillated between comedy and drama, Alan Arkin struggled for several years as a theater actor until the early 1960s when he caught his first break by joining the famed comedy troupe, The Second City. With his career officially started, he made a huge impression with an Oscar-nominated performance in Norman Jewison's raucous Cold War comedy, "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming" (1966), a film that put Arkin on the map for good. He did take a step backwards with a leading role in "Catch-22" (1970), thanks to the expected hit becoming a flop. After spending several years making rather forgettable comedies, Arkin finally rebounded with "The In-Laws" (1979), and spent the next decade bouncing around from television to film to stage. Following a notable turn in "Edward Scissorhands" (1990), he delivered a standout performance as a meek salesman in "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1992). Arkin went on to a greater diversity of roles with "Jeryky Boys: The Movie" (1995), "Grosse Point Blank" (1997), "Four Days in September" (1997), "The Slums of Beverly Hills" (1998) and "The Pentagon Papers" (FX, 2003). He received deserved accolades for his hilarious, but touching performance as a drug-addled, foul-mouthed septuagenarian in the surprise hit "Little Miss Sunshine" (2007), a role that finally earned him a long-awaited Academy Award. Whether in broad comedies, indie films or studio blockbusters, Arkin proved himself to be one of Hollywood's more versatile and in-demand actors.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Fire Sale (1977) Director
3.
  Little Murders (1971) Director
4.
  Boss, The (1989) Director
5.
  Visit, The (1987) Director
6.
  Twigs (1975) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 In Security (2014)
4.
 Grudge Match (2013)
5.
 Stand Up Guys (2012)
6.
 Argo (2012)
7.
 Change-Up, The (2011)
8.
 Muppets, The (2011)
9.
 Thin Ice (2011)
10.
 City Island (2009)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1956:
With Erik Darling and Bob Carey, co-founded the folk group The Tarriers
1958:
Recorded four albums of songs for children with The Babysitters
1958:
Off-Broadway debut, "Heloise"
1959:
Joined the improvisational group The Compass Players at the Crystal Palace in St. Louis, MO
1960:
Became a member of Chicago's Second City Group
1961:
Broadway debut in the revue, "From the Second City"
1963:
Delivered Tony-winning turn in Carl Reiner's "Enter Laughing"
1963:
Screen acting debut in short, "That's Me"
1966:
Off-Broadway directing debut, "Eh?"; credited as Robert Short
1966:
Feature acting debut, "The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming"; earned Best Actor Oscar nomination
1967:
Short film directing debut, "T.G.I.F"
1967:
Terrorized a helpless and blind Audrey Hepburn in "Wait Until Dark"
1968:
Earned second Best Actor Oscar nomination as a deaf mute loner in "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"
1969:
Starred in Arthur Hiller's "Popi"; earned a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination
1969:
Directed off-Broadway revival of Jules Feiffer's "Little Murders"
1970:
Landed plum role in Mike Nichols' film adaptation of Joseph Heller's antiwar novel "Catch-22"; initial tepid response hurt his career; film has since acquired cult status
1971:
Feature film directing debut, "Little Murders"; also acted
1972:
Broadway directorial debut, Neil Simon's "The Sunshine Boys"
1975:
Co-directed (with Clark Jones) George Furth's TV adaptation of his play "Twigs" (CBS)
1975:
Directed episodes of NBC's short-lived series "Fay," starring Lee Grant
1977:
Portrayed Sigmund Freud to Nicol Williamson's Sherlock Holmes in "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution"
1977:
Directed and acted in "Fire Sale"
1979:
Feature producing (executive producer) debut, "The In-Laws"; also acted; second film with director Hiller
1981:
Teamed with Carol Burnett in the film "Chu Chu and the Philly Flash"; scripted by Arkin's then-wife Barbara Dana
1982:
Provided the voice of Schmendrick the Magician in the animated feature "The Last Unicorn"
1985:
Won critical praise as James Woods' colorful dad in "Joshua Then and Now"
1987:
Delivered an Emmy-nominated turn in CBS movie "Escape from Sobibor"
1987:
Co-executive producer and star of short-lived ABC series "Harry"; also starred wife Barbara Dana
1987:
Directed "The Visit," the fifth episode of PBS' first original comedy series "Trying Times"
1988:
Co-wrote (with wife Barbara Dana from her novel) and co-starred with her in the PBS special "Necessary Parties"
1990:
Offered a satiric turn as suburbanite in "Edward Scissorhands"
1992:
Joined a heavyweight cast for the film version of David Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross"
1993:
Played a bitter ex-ballplayer in TNT's "Cooperstown"
1993:
Helmed first feature in 16 years, "Samuel Beckett Is Coming Soon"; also co-starred with son Anthony
1995:
Appeared in "Jerky Boys: The Movie"
1996:
Played George Kraft in film version of Kurt Vonnegut's "Night Mother"
1997:
Offered a hysterically funny turn as hitman John Cusack's psychiatrist in "Grosse Point Blank"
1997:
Played American ambassador to Brazil in the Oscar-nominated foreign film "Four Days in September"
1998:
Played the family patriarch in "The Slums of Beverly Hills"
1998:
Returned to the stage in the off-Broadway play (also co-authored) "Power Plays"; also starred son Anthony, Elaine May and May's daughter Jeannie Berlin
2001:
Headlined the ensemble cast of the A&E series "100 Centre Street"
2003:
Cast in the FX miniseries "The Pentagon Papers"; received a Best Supporting Actor Emmy nomination
2006:
Played a foul-mouthed grandfather with a taste for heroin in the indie comedy "Little Miss Sunshine"; earned a SAG nomination for Best Supporting Actor
2007:
Played an elderly handyman in director Neal Miller's character-driven comedy drama "Raising Flagg"
2007:
Co-starred with Meryl Streep and Reese Witherspoon in "Rendition"
2008:
Played The Chief in the adaptation of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry's hit 1960s spy parody "Get Smart"
2008:
Played Owen Wilson's boss in the family film "Marley and Me"
2009:
Played Amy Adams and Emily Blunt's father in the independent feature "Sunshine Cleaning"
2009:
Played the much older husband of Robin Wright Penn in "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee," written and directed by Rebecca Miller
2010:
Co-starred in the independent film "City Island"
2011:
Cast as Ryan Reynolds' father in "The Change-Up"
2011:
Re-teamed with "Little Miss Sunshine" co-star Greg Kinnear in the crime drama "Thin Ice"
2011:
Made cameo in "The Muppets"
2012:
Played a veteran Hollywood producer in political thriller "Argo," directed by Ben Affleck
2012:
Co-starred with Al Pacino and Christopher Walken as aging con men in crime comedy "Stand Up Guys"
2013:
Played an aging magician opposite Jim Carrey and Steve Carell in "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Franklin High School: Los Angeles , California -
Los Angeles City College: Los Angeles , California - 1951 - 1952
Los Angeles State College of Applied Arts and Sciences: Los Angeles , California - 1952 - 1953
Bennington College: Bennington , Vermont - 1953 - 1955

Notes

"Actually, I don't even think I was funny once before I got to Second City. I don't know why they hired me. It was months before I did anything that was remotely humorous. I found one character that worked, and kept playing him over and over. But on weekends we would work four or five hours a night and play 50, 60 characters, improvising, doing set pieces. And that kind of experience is invaluable." --Alan Arkin in Premiere, November 1995.

"Alan's never had an identifiable screen personality because he just disappears into his characters. His acents are impeccable, and he's even able to change his look--but oddly enough, this gift has worked against him. He's always been underestimated, partly because he's never been in service of his own success, which is one of the things I love about him. Alan's just so cool!" --Norman Jewison to Los Angeles Times, January 25, 1998.

Regarding Hollywood's fickle nature: "The tide comes in, and the tide goes out. Believe me, I wasn't taking a breather in the 70s ...

"I was broke when I made 'The Jerky Boys'. But that's nothing to be ashamed about. My job is to make a living from the best material that comes my way. I'd only be embarrassed if I didn't take my acting--even in 'The Jerky Boys'--seriously. But I always do." --Arkin quoted in New York Post, January 26, 1998.

Arkin plans to direct a film about the Brazilian psychic surgeon Arigo, written by wife Barbara and produced by John Cusack, who would also portray the part of a visiting American journalist.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Jeremy Yaffe. Bennington classmate; married while in college in 1955; divorced; mother of Adam and Matthew Arkin.
wife:
Barbara Dana. Actor, writer. Second wife; married on June 16, 1964; wrote "Chu Chu and the Philly Flash" (1981), in which husband starred; mother of Anthony Arkin.

Family close complete family listing

father:
David I Arkin. Teacher. A painter and writer who couldn't make a living at it, so he taught; Communist; lost his job teaching in Los Angeles during Red Scare of 1950s.
mother:
Beatrice Arkin. Teacher. Communist.
son:
Adam Arkin. Actor, screenwriter. Born on August 19, 1956; mother, Jeremy Yaffe; wrote "Improper Channels" (1981), in which father acted, and acted with him in "Chu Chu and the Philly Flash" (1981) and "Full Moon High" (1982); Alan also played Adam's long-lost father on CBS' "Chicago Hope".
son:
Matthew Arkin. Lawyer, actor. Born c. 1960; mother, Jeremy Yaffe; acted with father in Carl Reiner's "North".
son:
Anthony Dana Arkin. Actor, director. Mother, Barbara Dana; appeared in small role in "Full Moon High" and as father's son in PBS special "A Matter of Principle" (1984).
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Tony's Hard Work Day" Harper & Row
"The Lemming Condition" Harper & Row
"Halfway Through the Door" Harper & Row
"The Clearing"
"Some Fine Grandpa" HarperCollins
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute