Lee J. Cobb

Lee J. Cobb


Also Known As
Leo Jacoby, Cpl. Lee J. Cobb, Lee Colt, Lee Cobb
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
December 08, 1911
February 11, 1976
Cause of Death
Heart Attack


A player of character parts from such an early age that he had to wear heavy makeup to be convincing as an older man, Lee J. Cobb gradually grew into his roles to become one of the great American actors. He specialized in outspoken, sometimes abrasive characters who often had a vulnerable underside. His performance on Broadway and television in Death of a Salesman is considered a landma...

Photos & Videos

12 Angry Men - Lobby Card Set
Thieves' Highway - Movie Posters
Sirocco - Lobby Cards

Family & Companions

Helen Beverly
Actor. Married on February 1940.
Mary Hirsch
Married on June 27, 1957.


A player of character parts from such an early age that he had to wear heavy makeup to be convincing as an older man, Lee J. Cobb gradually grew into his roles to become one of the great American actors. He specialized in outspoken, sometimes abrasive characters who often had a vulnerable underside. His performance on Broadway and television in Death of a Salesman is considered a landmark, and he was Oscar-nominated for outstanding supporting performances in On the Waterfront (1954) and The Brothers Karamazov (1958).

Cobb was born Leo Jacoby in The Bronx in 1911 to a Jewish family of Russian and Romanian descent. Early acting experience came in summer stock and radio, and he made a few minor movie appearances in the early 1930s. His career began in earnest in 1935 when he joined the Group Theatre. His role there in 1937 as the boxer-hero?s Italian father in Clifford Odets? Golden Boy led to his repeating this juicy role in the 1939 film version. Cobb was convincing as William Holden?s dad even though he was only six years older!

Cobb?s movie career was off and running, and he would appear regularly in films until his death in 1976. Other early roles included that of Spencer Tracy?s pawnbroker friend in Men of Boys Town (1941), Jennifer Jones? doctor in The Song of Bernadette (1943) and Rex Harrison?s Prime Minister in Anna and the King of Siam (1946). His powerful performance as ?Johnny Friendly,? the mob-connected union boss in Elia Kazan?s On the Waterfront, lifted Cobb?s career to a new level, and he began receiving prominent costar billing.

Some reviewers felt that, among the strong ensemble cast of 12 Angry Men (1957), Cobb delivered the most powerful performance as the aggressive, emotional Juror No. 3. Critic Bosley Crowther described Cobb?s scene-stealing characterization of the father in The Brothers Karamazov as ?a monster of drooling lecheries, crafty greeds and beady-eyed suspicions.? He gives another indelible performance in Otto Preminger?s Exodus (1960) as Zionist leader Barak ben Canaan, a character similar to David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minster of Israel.

In the episodic Cinerama Western How the West Was Won (1962), Cobb plays a stalwart marshal and gets equal billing with the likes of James Stewart, John Wayne and Gregory Peck. For his rare foray into comedy as the father in the film version of Neil Simon?s Come Blow Your Horn (1963), Cobb was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actor. (Again, he was only a few years older than ?son? Frank Sinatra.) One of Cobb?s last great film roles was as the dogged investigator of the bizarre happenings in William Friedkin?s The Exorcist (1973).

In addition to Death of a Salesman, Cobb had a second Broadway triumph in the title role of a 1968 version of King Lear that scored the longest run (72 performances) of any production of the play in Broadway history. He also worked extensively in television and for four seasons played Judge Henry Garth, the Wyoming ranch owner in the NBC-TV Western The Virginian, starring James Drury.

Cobb was among Hollywood personalities threatened by blacklisting when he was questioned by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the early 1950s. He finally agreed to give testimony in which he named members of the Communist Party. He died of a heart attack in 1976 and was survived by his second wife, Mary Hirsch. He was the father of actress Julie Cobb.



Cast (Feature Film)

Arthur Miller on Home Ground (1979)
Cross Shot (1976)
Ultimatum (1975)
The Nark (1975)
Blood Sweat and Fear (1975)
That Lucky Touch (1975)
General Steedeman
The Great Ice Rip-Off (1974)
Willy Calso
Dr. Max (1974)
Dr Max Gordon
Trapped Beneath the Sea (1974)
Double Indemnity (1973)
Barton Keyes
The Exorcist (1973)
William Kinderman
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973)
Heat of Anger (1972)
Frank Galvin
Lawman (1971)
Vincent Bronson
The Liberation of L. B. Jones (1970)
Oman Hedgepath
Macho Callahan (1970)
Mackenna's Gold (1969)
Mafia (1969)
Don Mariano Arena
They Came To Rob Las Vegas (1969)
Coogan's Bluff (1968)
Lieutenant McElroy
In Like Flint (1967)
Our Man Flint (1966)
Come Blow Your Horn (1963)
Mr. Baker
How the West Was Won (1963)
Lou Ramsey
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962)
Julio Madariaga
Exodus (1960)
Barak Ben Canaan
The Trap (1959)
Victor Massonetti
But Not for Me (1959)
Jeremiah MacDonald
Green Mansions (1959)
The Brothers Karamazov (1958)
Fyodor Karamazov
Man of the West (1958)
Dock Tobin
Party Girl (1958)
Rico Angelo
The Big Show (1957)
12 Angry Men (1957)
Juror 3
The Three Faces of Eve (1957)
Dr. Curtis Luther
The Garment Jungle (1957)
Walter Mitchell
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956)
Judge Bernstein
Miami Expose (1956)
Bart Scott
The Road to Denver (1955)
Jim Donovan
The Racers (1955)
The Left Hand of God (1955)
Mieh Yang
Yankee Pasha (1954)
Gorilla at Large (1954)
Detective Sgt. Garrison
Day of Triumph (1954)
Zadok, Zealot leader
On the Waterfront (1954)
Johnny Friendly
The Tall Texan (1953)
Capt. Theodore Bess
Sirocco (1951)
Colonel Louis Feroud
The Man Who Cheated Himself (1951)
Lt. Editor Cullen
The Family Secret (1951)
Howard Clark
The Dark Past (1949)
Dr. Andrew Collins
Thieves' Highway (1949)
Mike Figlia
Call Northside 777 (1948)
Brian Kelly
Captain from Castile (1948)
Juan García
The Luck of the Irish (1948)
D. C. Augur
The Miracle of the Bells (1948)
Marcus Harris
Boomerang! (1947)
Chief Harold F. "Robby" Robinson
Johnny O'Clock (1947)
Inspector Koch
Anna and the King of Siam (1946)
The Song of Bernadette (1945)
Dr. T. Dozous
Winged Victory (1944)
The Moon Is Down (1943)
Dr. Albert Winter
Tonight We Raid Calais (1943)
Monsieur Bonnard
Buckskin Frontier (1943)
Jeptha Marr
Paris Calling (1942)
[Hauptman] Schwabe
Men of Boys Town (1941)
Dave Morris
This Thing Called Love (1941)
Julio Diestro
Golden Boy (1939)
Mr. Bonaparte
The Phantom Creeps (1939)
Danger on the Air (1938)
Rustler's Valley (1937)
Cal Howard
Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937)
North of the Rio Grande (1937)

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Arthur Miller on Home Ground (1979)

Director (Special)

Tennessee Ernie Ford Meets King Arthur (1960)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Origins of the Mafia (1974)

Life Events

Photo Collections

12 Angry Men - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from 12 Angry Men (1957), starring Henry Fonda. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Thieves' Highway - Movie Posters
Thieves' Highway - Movie Posters
Sirocco - Lobby Cards
Sirocco - Lobby Cards
Johnny O'Clock - Lobby Card Set
Johnny O'Clock - Lobby Card Set
Johnny O'Clock - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Johnny O'Clock - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Green Mansions - Scene Stills
Here are some scene stills from MGM's Green Mansions (1959), starring Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins.
How the West Was Won - Program Book
Here is the souvenir Program Book sold at Roadshow engagements for the 1962 epic in Cinerama, How the West Was Won.


Movie Clip

Man Who Cheated Himself, The (1950) - You're A Big Girl Now Money scenes, as San Francisco police detective Ed (Lee J. Cobb) arrives to calm down his wealthy married lover Lois (Jane Wyatt), who rightly suspects her husband (Harlan Warde), despite having left for the airport, is plotting to kill her, violence and quick thinking ensuing, in The Man Who Cheated Himself, 1951.
Thieves' Highway (1949) - I'm The Friendly Type Weary trucker Nick, at the San Francisco produce market (director Jules Dassin shooting on location), aiming not to get shafted on his first delivery, doesn’t know what to make of Rica (Valentina Cortese, her first scene), in Thieves’ Highway, 1949, from A.I. Bezzerides’ novel and screenplay.
Thieves' Highway (1949) - The Chinese Have Small Feet During his big fat Greek-American return to California, ship mechanic Nick (Richard Conte), with his mom, dad (Tamara Shayne, Morris Carnovsky) and probably-fianceè Polly (Barbara Lawrence), discovers bad news that had been kept from him, early in Jules Dassin’s Thieves’ Highway, 1949.
Thieves' Highway (1949) - I Got Plenty Of Shirts Location shooting at the San Francisco produce market, for which the movie is famous, novice trucker Nick (Richard Conte) jousts with dealer Figlia (Lee J. Cobb), not revealing he’s seeking revenge for injuries to his father, Edwin Max and George Tyne the henchmen, in Thieves’ Highway, 1949.
Man Who Cheated Himself, The (1950) - He's Bought A Gun We’ve just met John Dall as eager new San Francisco homicide detective Andy Cullen, and Lee J. Cobb as his brother Ed, who’ll be supervising him, and who offers his wedding gift, then phones his anxious married mistress Lois (Jane Wyatt), having deduced that she called earlier, then meets the fianceè Janet (Lisa Howard), early in The Man Who Cheated Himself, 1951.
Man Who Cheated Himself, The (1950) - Looking For Green Coupes Rare location shots of the old toll booth at the Golden Gate Bridge, from producer Jack M. Warner and director Felix E. Feist, as detective Cullen (Lee J. Cobb), who’s just moved the body of her lover’s husband, whom she shot, to the airport, talks with a patrolman (Bud Wolfe) about his also-cop younger brother, The Man Who Cheated Himself, 1951.
Man Who Cheated Himself, The (1950) - Don't Forget To Change Your Will No fooling around in the opening, Harlan Warde as San Franciscan Howard looks to be plotting a crime, and we’re given reason to think it will involve his wife Lois (Jane Wyatt), who intrudes, Felix E. Feist directing, in Columbia’s The Man Who Cheated Himself, 1951, starring Lee J. Cobb, restored in 2018 by Eddie Muller’s Film Noir Foundation.
Party Girl (1958) - Would You Like To Take Me Home? Paid with girlfriends from the night club to attend a party thrown by Chicago gang boss Rico (Lee J. Cobb), who’s distraught over the marriage of movie star Jean Harlow, savvy dancer Vicki (Cyd Charisse) meets thug Louis (John Ireland) and lawyer Farrell (Robert Taylor, his first scene), in director Nicholas Ray’s crime-musical hybrid Party Girl, 1958.
Party Girl (1958) - Those Guys Are Dead! Gang boss Rico (Lee J. Cobb) explains to lawyer Farrell (Robert Taylor) how he's gotta defend ambitious thug Cookie (Corey Allen) or else, in Nicholas Ray's Party Girl, 1958.
Golden Boy (1939) - Monarch Of The Masses! Joe Bonaparte (William Holden), with morally compromised supporters Adolphe Menjou and Barbara Stanwyck in the crowd, wins his fight with Chocolate Drop (James "Cannonball Green) then gets bad news from fight commissioner Driscoll (Stanley Andrews) in Columbia's Golden Boy, 1939.
Golden Boy (1939) - You Tell Me, Miss Moon! Joe Bonaparte (William Holden) brings girlfriend Lorna (Barbara Stanwyck) home to sister Anna (Beatrice Blinn) and Dad (Lee J. Cobb) in Golden Boy, 1939, from Clifford Odets' play.
Golden Boy (1939) - You Better Than That! Violinist Joe (William Holden) breaks the news to his dad (Lee J. Cobb, who was only seven years older) about his boxing ambitions in Golden Boy, 1939, from Clifford Odets' play.


Garment Jungle, The - (Original Trailer) A dress manufacturer (Lee J. Cobb) brings in the mob to fight unionization in The Garment Jungle (1957).
On The Waterfront - (Original Trailer) Eight Academy Awards went to On The Waterfront (1954) about a stevedore (Marlon Brando) thinking of informing on the mob.
Exodus - (Textless trailer) Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint lead an all-star cast in Otto Preminger's epic about the formation of the modern state of Israel, Exodus (1960).
Racers, The - (Textless Trailer) A man (Kirk Douglas) alienates everyone around him on his goal to become a world-famous race car driver in The Racers (1955).
Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, The - (Original Trailer) A vengeful outlaw (Burt Reynolds) protects a woman from his gang in The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973).
Boomerang! - (Textless Trailer) Prosecutor Dana Andrews fights to prove the defendant in a scandalous murder case is innocent in Elia Kazan's Boomerang! (1947).
12 Angry Men - (Original Trailer) Henry Fonda is the lone holdout against convicting a Puerto Rican youth in the jury duty drama 12 Angry Men (1957).
Sirocco - (Original Trailer) Humphrey Bogart is back in another North African city full of intrigue, Sirocco (1951) co-starring Lee J. Cobb and Zero Mostel.
Our Man Flint - (Original Trailer) When scientists use eco-terrorism to impose their will on the world, top agent Derek Flint (James Coburn) is called in Our Man Flint (1966).
Mackenna's Gold - (Original Trailer) A group of men, lead by a questionable sheriff and a wanted bandit, descend upon the desert in search of a lost canyon of gold in Mackenna's Gold (1969).
Green Mansions - (Original Trailer) Audrey Hepburn is Rima, the Bird Woman of the Amazon rain forest in the romantic adventure Green Mansions (1959) co-starring Anthony Perkins.
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The (1962) - (Original Trailer) Members of an Argentinan family fight on opposite sides during WW II in Vincente Minnelli's The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962) starring Glenn Ford.


Julie Cobb
Actor. Born c. 1947; survived him; married to actor James Cromwell.


Helen Beverly
Actor. Married on February 1940.
Mary Hirsch
Married on June 27, 1957.