Family moved frequently in his early childhood
Settled in Danville, IL; raised by maternal grandmother
Joined the Marines at age 16 after quitting school
While serving in China, worked as a disc jockey for U.S. Armed Forces Radio
Broke both legs in a motorcycle accident
In the 1950s, worked throughout the Midwest as a radio announcer and in NYC at various jobs
Moved to California to attend the Pasadena Playhouse acting school; voted "Least Likely to Succeed" along with classmate Dustin Hoffman
Made stage debut opposite ZaSu Pitts in "The Curious Miss Caraway" at the Pasadena Playhouse
Asked to leave Playhouse school; returned to NYC
New York stage debut in "Chaparral"
TV acting debut on the episode "Little Tin God" of CBS' "U.S. Steel Hour"; later appeared on several other installments of the show
Feature film acting debut, small role as a cop in "Mad Dog Coll"
Appeared with the improvisational troupe The Premise in Greenwich Village
Made impression with guest appearance on the debut episode of the CBS series "The Defenders"
Broadway debut, "Children at Their Games"
Rose to prominence in Broadway production of "Any Wednesday" opposite Sandy Dennis
First major film role, "Lilith"; also first screen collaboration with Warren Beatty
Hired by Beatty to play Buck Barrow in "Bonnie and Clyde"; received first Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor; also initial collaboration with Arthur Penn
TV-movie debut, "Shadow on the Land" (ABC)
Appeared as one of the astronauts trapped in space in "Marooned"
Earned second Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for "I Never Sang for My Father"
Breakthrough screen role, NYC detective Popeye Doyle in "The French Connection"; reportedly almost quit film over its violent content; earned Best Actor Oscar
Headed the all-star cast of "The Poseidon Adventure" as a defrocked minister who becomes the de facto leader of those who survived the underwater disaster
Portrayed a specialist in planting bugging devices in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Conversation"
Offered hilarious cameo as the blind hermit in Mel Brooks' horror spoof "Young Frankenstein"
Reprised role of Popeye Doyle in "French Connection II"
Reteamed with director Arthur Penn for "Night Moves"
Appeared as part of the all-star cast of Richard Attenborough's WWII epic "A Bridge Too Far"
"Retired" from acting for four years
Offered deliciously sly turn as the villainous Lex Luthor in "Superman"; reprised role in 1980's "Superman II" (shot simultaneously with the first)
Returned to features after "retirement" in supporting role of editor Peter Van Wherry in Beatty's epic "Reds"
Had misfire as comic lead opposite Barbra Streisand in "All Night Long"
Delivered fine turn as a news anchorman in "Under Fire"
Played a middle-aged man going through a midlife crisis resulting in an affair in the underrated "Twice in a Lifetime"
Played the coach of a small-town Indiana high school basketball team in "Hoosiers"
Reprised role of Lex Luthor in the disappointing "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace"
Acted opposite Gena Rowlands in Woody Allen's "Another Woman"
Earned Best Actor Academy Award nomination as an FBI agent investigating the murders of civil rights workers in "Mississippi Burning"
Starred opposite Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as father-daughter lawyers on opposite sides of a case in "Class Action"
Played a film director in Mike Nichols' "Postcards From the Edge," adapted from Carrie Fisher's roman-a-clef
Underwent surgery for angina, provoking a two-year hiatus from acting
Delivered fine villainous turn as a corrupt sheriff in Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven"; received Best Supporting Actor Oscar
Returned to Broadway in "Death and the Maiden" alongside Richard Dreyfuss and Glenn Close
Portrayed a burnt-out lawyer in "The Firm," based on the John Grisham novel
Cast as the patriarch of the family in "Wyatt Earp"
Provided formidable opposition to Denzel Washington as the captain of a submarine in the taut thriller "Crimson Tide"
Showed comic side as a hack director in "Get Shorty"
Played the straight man as a conservative U.S .senator in "The Birdcage," directed by Mike Nichols
Second appearance in a film based on a John Grisham novel, "The Chamber"; played a white supremacist defended by his grandson (Chris O'Donnell)
Portrayed the U.S. President possibly caught up in murder in "Absolute Power"
Cast as a dignified movie star married to Susan Sarandon in "Twilight," also starring Paul Newman as a retired detective
Voiced the character of the fascistic General Mandible in the animated feature "Antz"
In a nod to "The Conversation," played a surveillance expert who assists Will Smith in "Enemy of the State"
Published first novel <i>Wake of the Perdido Star</i>, co-written with undersea archaeologist Daniel Lenihan; duo co-authored three more novels: <i>Justice for None</i> (2004), <i>Escape from Andersonville</i> (2008) and <i>Payback at Morning Peak</i> (2011)
Starred as a football coach in "The Replacements"
Executive produced and starred in the crime drama "Under Suspicion"
Appeared in "The Mexican" in an uncredited cameo
Landed featured role in "Heartbreakers," a comedy about a mother-daughter con artist team
Appeared opposite Owen Wilson in the war drama "Behind Enemy Lines"
Played the rascally patriarch of a dysfunctional family of geniuses in "The Royal Tenenbaums"; Owen Wilson co-wrote script with director Wes Anderson
Played a ruthless jury consultant in the thriller feature "Runaway Jury"
Played a former president who runs for mayor of a small town against a local candidate in "Welcome to Mooseport"