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John Garfield
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Birth Name: Jacob Julius Garfinkle
Birthdate: March 4, 1913
Birthplace: New York, NY
Date of Death: May 21, 1952
Occupation: Actor
John Garfield Photo

Claim to Fame: 1946: Starred in original version of The Postman Always Rings Twice

Significant Other(s):
Wife: Roberta Mann (aka Roberta Seidman), actress; mother of Garfield's three children; survived him

Father: Jacob Garfinkle
Mother: Hannah Garfinkle
Daughter: Kathryn; born 1937; died at age 7 of asthma
Son: David (aka John Garfield Jr.), actor; born 1943; committed suicide 1994
Daughter: Julie, actress; born January 10, 1946

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. 5Long 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. 5Some 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). 5Garfield 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 Garfield as Joe Bonaparte, the music-minded young man who becomes a prize fighter and dates the wrong women, in Odets' "Golden Boy" (1937). Although William Holden played Joe in the 1939 feature, the role earned Garfield his shot in Hollywood and 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. 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.

Big Breakdowns: Hollywood Bloopers of the 1930s
TV Variety, Vol. 19 (1957)
He Ran All the Way (1951)
The Breaking Point (1950)
Anni Difficili (1950)
Under My Skin (1950)
Son of Hollywood Bloopers (194?)
Jigsaw (1949)
We Were Strangers (1949)
Force of Evil (1948)
Body and Soul (1947)
Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
Daisy Kenyon (1947)
Humoresque (1946)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Nobody Lives Forever (1946)
Pride of the Marines (1945)
Hollywood Canteen (1944)
Between Two Worlds (1944)
Air Force (1943)
Destination Tokyo (1943)
The Fallen Sparrow (1943)
Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
Show Business at War (1943)
Tortilla Flat (1942)
Dangerously They Live (1942)
The Sea Wolf (1941)
Out of the Fog (1941)
Castle on the Hudson (1940)
East of the River (1940)
Flowing Gold (1940)
Saturday's Children (1940)
Juarez (1939)
They Made Me a Fugitive (1939)
Blackwell's Island (1939)
Daughters Courageous (1939)
Dust Be My Destiny (1939)
Four Wives (1939)
Four S (1939)
Four Daughters (1938)
Footlight Parade (1933)

1938: National Board of Review: Best Acting, Four Daughters; one of 22 performers cited

1946: Was producer Irene Mayer Selznick's first choice to play Stanley Kowalski in the Broadway premiere of A Streetcar Named Desire

PS 45, New York, New York
Hecksher School of Drama, New York, NY
Maria Ouspenskaya Drama School, New York, NY

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