skip navigation
John Garfield

John Garfield

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (15)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Destination Tokyo DVD "Remarkably heroic and suspenseful action. The Warners really sweat you out with... more info $5.99was $14.98 Buy Now

Best Picture Collection... Each year a handful of cinematic treasures are nominated for the coveted Best... more info $39.98was $39.98 Buy Now

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)... John Garfield and Lana Turner give the performances of a lifetime in "The... more info $4.99was $19.98 Buy Now

The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad... In this action-adventure classic, legendary sailor Sinbad sets sail toward an... more info $14.99was $14.99 Buy Now

They Made Me A Criminal... "They Made Me a Criminal" (1939) takes a strange twist on the life of young... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now

TCM Greatest Classic Films: Murder... This TCM Greatest Classic Films Set includes these four great films:The Maltese... more info $19.99was $27.98 Buy Now



Also Known As: Jacob Julius Garfinkle, Julie Garfield, Jules Garfield Died: May 21, 1952
Born: March 4, 1913 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor, producer, farmhand, newspaper boy

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This member of the Group Theater entered films in 1938, becoming an instant star with his performance in "Four Daughters" and brought a fiery intensity to a number of memorable roles over the next 15 years. Garfield's background as a slum-raised child of immigrants helped contribute to his image as an anti-hero and he excelled at playing tough urban figures in socially conscious dramas such as "Body and Soul" (1947) and "Force of Evil" (1948). Both of these films were produced by Enterprise Productions, which Garfield co-founded in an attempt to encourage work by humanist artists. The former earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his turn as the boxer who will do anything to be champion. Long before there was Brando--who ironically only won the role of Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire" on Broadway after producer Irene Mayer Selznick and Garfield could not come to terms--and long before there was Pacino and De Niro, there was Garfield. He is said to have been the first student of "The Method" to succeed in Hollywood, and in so doing changed the face not just of American acting, but the standard of film acting as well. Garfield was more than just an actor who played defiant...

This member of the Group Theater entered films in 1938, becoming an instant star with his performance in "Four Daughters" and brought a fiery intensity to a number of memorable roles over the next 15 years. Garfield's background as a slum-raised child of immigrants helped contribute to his image as an anti-hero and he excelled at playing tough urban figures in socially conscious dramas such as "Body and Soul" (1947) and "Force of Evil" (1948). Both of these films were produced by Enterprise Productions, which Garfield co-founded in an attempt to encourage work by humanist artists. The former earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his turn as the boxer who will do anything to be champion.

Long before there was Brando--who ironically only won the role of Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire" on Broadway after producer Irene Mayer Selznick and Garfield could not come to terms--and long before there was Pacino and De Niro, there was Garfield. He is said to have been the first student of "The Method" to succeed in Hollywood, and in so doing changed the face not just of American acting, but the standard of film acting as well. Garfield was more than just an actor who played defiant rebels from the wrong side of the tracks. His natural style brought the internal rhythms and emotions of a character to the fore. While Edward G Robinson and Paul Muni had played the first tier of such characters on screen--and have been rightly heralded as two of the greatest American actors of all time--Garfield's interpretation of the same sort of anti-heroes could break through sans expressionistic lighting and sound and was cloaked in a sexual energy that neither Robinson nor Muni had. Even Joan Crawford succumbed to him in "Humoresque" (1946). He burnt up the celluloid with Lana Turner as lovers who murder her husband in "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1947). Even when subdued, Garfield's appeal threatened to steal the picture, as in "Gentleman's Agreement" (1947), in which he had the supporting role of Gregory Peck's Jewish buddy, a man not sure he has fought in World War II for an America that wants him. The more sedate Peck may have been the unquestioned star, but he was no match for Garfield's seething manliness.

Some critics have claimed that Garfield gave stiff performances, and while that point is debatable, his virility and unpolished charm saved many a film from becoming merely a programmer. He is also remembered for such roles as Porfirio Diaz in "Juarez" (1939) and as the brash seaman trying to escape the tyranny of Edward G Robinson in "Sea Wolf" (1941). In "Destination Tokyo" (1944), Garfield's raw sexual energy clashed head on with Cary Grant's more polished variety and helped to give Grant a forum to stretch as an actor. Garfield credits also included Michael Curtiz's "Breaking Point" (1950), an acclaimed remake of Howard Hawks' "To Have and to Have Not" (1944).

Garfield is also legendary for his stage portrayals. He rose to prominence in 1935 based on his work in two Clifford Odets plays, "Waiting for Lefty" and "Awake and Sing", both directed for The Group Theatre by Harold Clurman. Clurman also directed in Clifford Odets' "Golden Boy" (1937). Although the role was written for Garfield by Odets, he was cast in a supporting role instead and Luther Adler played Joe Bonaparte, the music-minded young man who becomes a prize fighter (Joe was played by William Holden in the 1939 film version). Not being offered the lead role in the stage production of "Golden Boy" resulted in Garfield's eventual break with the Group Theatre and he sought opportunities in Hollywood where he eventually signed a contract with Warner Bros. The actor would later return to the stage in the late 40s and early 50s, delivering acclaimed work in "The Big Knife" (1949) and "Peer Gynt" (1951), both directed by The Group Theatre co-founder Lee Strasberg. His final film, directed by John Berry, was He Ran All the Way (1951), a film noir that co-starred Shelley Winters. The heart attack which caused his death was considered to have been partially triggered by his blacklisting in the 1950s for refusing to name names before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. His late son David, who also called himself John Garfield Jr, and his daughter Julie were also actors. Julie Garfield currently teaches acting at T. Schreiber Studio and coaches privately.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 He Ran All the Way (1951) Nick Robey
3.
 The Breaking Point (1950) Harry Morgan
4.
 Under My Skin (1950) Dan Butler
5.
 Jigsaw (1949) Man with newspaper
6.
 Force of Evil (1949) Joe Morse
7.
 We Were Strangers (1949) Tony Fenner
8.
 Gentleman's Agreement (1948) Dave Goldman
9.
 Anni Difficili (1947) Narration
10.
 Daisy Kenyon (1947) Man at bar
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Born and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan
:
Was considered a "problem" child due to unruly behavior; enrolled at Public School 45 at suggestion of juvenile authorities
:
Became an amatuer boxer
:
Served apprenticeship with Eva Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory Theatre; adopted stage name of Jules Garfield
1935:
Made NYC stage debut in Clifford dets' "Waiting for Lefty"
1935:
Starred in Odets' "Awake and Sing" on New York stage
1937:
Firmed stage stardom by starring in "Having a Wonderful Time"
1937:
Left cast of "Having a Wonderful Time" to appear in Group Theater production of "Golden Boy"; although Clifford Odets had written the leading role with him in mind, director Harold Clurman cast Luther Adler as Joe Bonaparte; instead played supporting role of a cab driver; left production when Warner Bros. offered a contract
:
Signed by Warner Bros.; appeared as an extra in several films
1938:
First feature film as actor, "Four Daughters"; received Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor
1941:
Played George Leach in "The Sea Wolf"
1946:
Left Warner Bros.
1946:
Starred in original version of "The Postman Always Rings Twice"
1946:
Was producer Irene Mayer Selznick's first choice to play Stanley Kowalski in the Broadway premiere of "A Streetcar Named Desire"; lost role because he would only commit to a four-month run in the play and he demanded first refusal of the film version
1947:
Had signature role in "Body and Soul"; played Jewish American buddy of Gregory Peck in "Gentleman's Agreement"
1951:
Last film, "He Ran All the Way"
1951:
Starred as "Peer Gynt" in stage production directed by Lee Strasberg
1952:
Acted in stage revival of "Golden Boy"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Roosevelt High School: New York , New York -
Stuyvesant High School: New York , New York -
Maria Ouspenskaya Drama School: New York , New York -
P S 45: New York , New York -
Hecksher School of Drama: New York , New York -

Notes

While a number of sources claim that Garfield made his first film appearance in a bit part in 1933's "Footlight Parade", this is widely believed to be a fallacy.

Garfield was portrayed by Bruce Ornstein in the 1993 TV movie "Will There Really Be a Morning".

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Roberta Mann. Actor. Mother of Garfield's three children; married from 1932 until his death; separated in 1943; reconciled in 1945 after the death of daughter Kathryn; separated in May 1952.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Jacob Garfinkle. Tailor. Remarried after the death of Garfield's mother.
mother:
Hannah Garfinkle. Died c. 1920.
brother:
Max Garfinkle. After father's second marriage, sent to live with other relatives.
daughter:
Kathryn Garfield. Born in 1938; died of asthma in 1945.
son:
David Garfield. Actor. Born in 1942; committed suicide in 1994.
daughter:
Julie Garfield. Actor. Born on January 10, 1946.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"John Garfield"
"John Garfield: The Illustrated Career in Films and On Stage" McFarland

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute