Eli Wallach


Eli Herschel Wallach (December 7, 1915 – June 24, 2014) was an American film, television and stage actor whose career spanned more than seven decades, beginning in the late 1940s. Trained in stage acting, which he enjoyed doing most, he became “one of the greatest ‘character actors’ ever to appear on stage and screen”, with over 90 film credits. He and his wife Anne Jackson often appeared together on stage, and were one of the best-known acting couples in American theater. As a stage and screen character actor, Wallach had one of the longest-ever careers in show business, spanning 62 years from his Broadway debut to his last two major Hollywood studio movies (which were released in the same year). He initially studied method acting under Sanford Meisner, and later became a founding member of the Actors Studio, where he studied under Lee Strasberg. He played a wide variety of roles throughout his career, primarily as a supporting actor.

For his debut screen performance in Elia Kazan‘s Baby Doll (1956), with Carroll Baker and Karl Malden; he won a BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer and a Golden Globe Award nomination. Among his other most famous roles are Calvera in John Sturges‘s The Magnificent Seven (1960), with Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, James Coburn, and Horst Buchholz; Guido in John Huston‘s The Misfits (1961), with Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and Montgomery Clift; and Tuco (“The Ugly”) in Sergio Leone‘s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), with Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef.

Other notable portrayals during this period include Henry Hathaway‘s Seven Thieves (1960), with Edward G. Robinson, Rod Steiger, and Joan Collins; Martin Ritt‘s Hemingway’s Adventures of a Young (1962), with Richard Beymer, Diane Baker, Jessica Tandy, Ricardo Montalbán, Arthur Kennedy, and Paul Newman; How the West Was Won (1962), with Lee J. Cobb, Henry Fonda, Carolyn Jones, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Robert Preston, Debbie Reynolds, James Stewart, John Wayne, and Richard Widmark; The Moon-Spinners (1964), with Hayley Mills and Peter McEnery; William Wyler‘s How to Steal a Million (1966), with Audrey Hepburn, Peter O’Toole, Hugh Griffith and Charles Boyer; and A Lovely Way to Die (1968), with Kirk Douglas, Sylva Koscina, and Kenneth Haigh.

Films in the 70s include Zig Zag (1970), with George Kennedy; The Angel Levine (1970), with Zero Mostel, Harry Belafonte, Ida Kamińska, Milo O’Shea, and Gloria Foster; Crazy Joe (1974), with Peter Boyle, Paula Prentiss, Fred Williamson, Rip Torn, Luther Adler, and Henry Winkler; The Sentinel (1977), with Cristina Raines, Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, John Carradine, Jerry Orbach, Tom Berenger, Nana Visitor, and Beverly D’Angelo; Stanley Kramer‘s The Domino Principle (1977), with Gene Hackman, Candice Bergen, Mickey Rooney and Richard Widmark; Peter Yates‘s The Deep (1977), with Robert Shaw, Jacqueline Bisset, and Nick Nolte; Circle of Iron (1978), with David Carradine, Roddy McDowall, and Christopher Lee; Stanley Donen‘s Movie Movie (1978), with George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Barry Bostwick, Red Buttons, and Art Carney; Firepower (1979), with Sophia Loren; and Winter Kills (1979), with Jeff Bridges, Anthony Perkins, Richard Boone, Toshirō Mifune, Sterling Hayden, Dorothy Malone, Belinda Bauer, Ralph Meeker, Elizabeth Taylor, Berry Berenson and Susan Walden.

Films in the 80s include Stokie (1981), with Danny Kaye, Carl Reiner, and Kim Hunter; The Salamander (1981), with Franco Nero and Anthony Quinn; The Executioner’s Son (1982), with Tommy Lee Jones; Tough Guys (1986), with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Charles Durning, Dana Carvey and Darlanne Fluegel; and Nuts (1987), with Barbra Streisand, Richard Dreyfuss, and Leslie Nielsen.

Films in the 90s include The Two Jakes (1990), with Jack Nicholson (who also directed), Harvey Keitel, Meg Tilly, Madeleine Stowe, Richard Farnsworth, Frederic Forrest, David Keith, Rubén Blades, and Tracey Walter; Francis Ford Coppola‘s The Godfather Part III (1990), with Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy García, Joe Mantegna, Bridget Fonda, George Hamilton, and Sofia Coppola; Article 99 (1992), with Kiefer Sutherland, Ray Liotta, Forest Whitaker, John C. McGinley, Rutanya Alda and Lea Thompson; Mistress (1992), with Robert De Niro, Danny Aiello, Robert Wuhl and Martin Landau; Two Much (1995), with Antonio Banderas, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, and Joan Cusack; The Associate (1996), with Whoopi Goldberg, Dianne Wiest, Tim Daly, Bebe Neuwirth, Austin Pendleton, and Lainie Kazan; and Uninvited (1999), with Nero and Vanessa Redgrave.

Films in the 2000s include Keeping the Faith (2000), with Ben Stiller, Edward Norton (who also directed), Jenna Elfman, and Anne Bancroft; Monday Night Mayhem (2002), with John Turturro; an uncredited part in Eastwood’s Mystic River (2003), with Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, and Laura Linney; King of the Corner (2004), with Peter Riegert, Isabella Rossellini, Eric Bogosian, Eli Wallach, D’Angelo and Rita Moreno; Lasse Hallström’s The Hoax (2006), with Richard Gere, Alfred Molina, Harden, Hope Davis, Julie Delpy, and Stanley Tucci; and Nancy Meyers’ The Holiday (2006), with Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Jack Black, Shannyn Sossamon, Edward Burns, and Rufus Sewell.

One of America’s most prolific screen actors, Wallach remained active well into his nineties, his last two roles were in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer (2010), with Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, and Olivia Williams; and Oliver Stone‘s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), with Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Frank Langella, and Susan Sarandon.

In 1988, Wallach was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. He received BAFTA Awards, Tony Awards and Emmy Awards, and an Academy Honorary Award at the second annual Governors Awards on November 13, 2010. In March 2017, the Harry Ransom Center announced the acquisition of Wallach’s papers, along with those of his wife, which will be made public when cataloging is complete.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • Baby Doll (1956) – directed by Elia Kazan
  • The Lark (1957) – directed by George Schaefer – TV movie
  • The Gift of the Magi (1958) – directed by George Schaefer – TV movie
  • The Lineup (1958) – directed by Don Siegel
  • Lullbaby (1960) – directed by Don Richardson
  • Seven Thieves (1960) – directed by Henry Hathaway
  • The Magnificent Seven (1960) – directed by John Sturges
  • The Misfits (1961) – directed by John Huston
  • Hemingway’s Adventures of a Young Man (1962) – directed by Martin Ritt
  • How the West Was Won (1962) – directed by Henry Hathaway, John Ford, & George Marshall
  • The Victors (1963) – directed by Carl Foreman
  • Act One (1963) – directed by Dore Schary
  • The Moon-Spinners (1964) – directed by James Neilson
  • Kisses for My President (1964) – directed by Curtis Bernhardt
  • Lord Jim (1965) – directed by Richard Brooks
  • Genghis Khan (1965) – directed by Henry Levin
  • The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966) – directed by Terence Young – TV movie
  • How to Steal a Million (1966) – directed by William Wyler
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) – directed by Sergio Leone
  • The Tiger Makes Out (1967) – directed by Arthur Hiller – also producer
  • How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life (1968) – directed by Fielder Cook
  • A Lovely Way to Die (1968) – directed by David Lowell Rich
  • Ace High (1968) – directed by Giuseppe Colizzi
  • The Brain (1969) – directed by Gérard Oury
  • Mackenna’s Gold (1969) – directed by J. Lee Thompson
  • The Reason Why (1970) – directed by Paul Leaf – short
  • Zig Zag (1970) – directed by Richard A. Colla – aka False Witness
  • The Adventures of Gerard (1970) – directed by Jerzy Skolimowski
  • The Angel Levine (1970) – directed by Ján Kadár
  • The People Next Door (1970) – directed by David Greene
  • Romance of a Horsethief (1971) – directed by Abraham Polonsky
  • The Typist (1971) – directed by Glenn Jordan – TV movie
  • Don’t Turn the Other Cheek! (1971) – directed by Duccio Tessari – aka Long Live Your Death
  • A Cold Night’s Death (1973) – directed by Jerrold Freedman – TV movie
  • Stateline Motel (1973) – aka Last Chance, Motel of Fear and Last Chance for a Born Loser
  • Cinderella Liberty (1973) – directed by Mark Rydell
  • Indict and Convict (1974) – directed by Boris Sagal – TV movie
  • Crazy Joe (1974) – directed by Carlo Lizzani
  • Houston, We’ve Got a Problem (1974) – directed by Lawrence Doheny – TV movie
  • Shoot First… Ask Questions Later (1975) – directed by Sergio Corbucci – aka The White, the Yellow, and the Black and Samurai
  • Eye of the Cat (1975) – directed by Alberto Bevilacqua
  • 20 Shades of Pink (1976) – directed by Paul Stanley – TV movie
  • Independence (1976) – directed by John Huston – short
  • Plot of Fear (1976) – directed by Paolo Cavara – aka Too Much Fear and Bloody Peanuts
  • The Sentinel (1977) – directed by Michael Winner
  • Nasty Habits (1977) – directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg
  • The Domino Principle (1977) – directed by Stanley Kramer
  • The Deep (1977) – directed by Peter Yates
  • Circle of Iron (1978) – directed by Richard Moore – aka The Silent Flute
  • Girlfriends (1978) – directed by Claudia Weill
  • Little Italy (1978) – directed by Bruno Corbucci
  • The Pirate (1978) – directed by Ken Annakin – TV movie
  • Movie Movie (1978) – directed by Stanley Donen
  • Firepower (1979) – directed by Michael Winner
  • Winter Kills (1979) – directed by William Richert
  • Guri (1980) – directed by Eduardo Darino
  • The Hunter (1980) – directed by Buzz Kulik
  • Fugitive Family (1980) – directed by Paul Krasny – TV movie
  • The Pride of Jesse Hallam (1981) – directed by Gary Nelson – TV movie
  • Stokie (1981) – directed by Herbert Wise – TV movie
  • The Salamander (1981) – directed by Peter Zinner
  • The Wall (1982) – directed by Robert Markowitz – TV movie
  • The Executioner’s Song (1982) – directed by Lawrence Schiller – TV movie
  • Anatomy of a Illness (1984) – directed by Richard T. Heffron – TV movie
  • Sam’s Son (1984) – directed by Michael Landon
  • Christopher Columbus (1985) – directed by Alberto Lattuada – miniseries
  • Embassy (1985) – directed by Robert Michael Lewis – TV movie
  • Murder: By Reason of Insanity (1985) – directed by Anthony Page – TV movie
  • Rocket to the Moon (1986) – directed by John Jacobs – TV movie
  • Tough Guys (1986) – directed by Jeff Kanew
  • Something in Common (1986) – directed by Glenn Jordan – TV movie
  • The Impossible Spy (1987) – directed by Jim Goddard – TV movie
  • Nuts (1987) – directed by Martin Ritt
  • The Two Jakes (1990) – directed by Jack Nicholson
  • The Godfather: Part III (1990) – directed by Francis Ford Coppola
  • Bride of Violence (1990) – directed by Stuart Margolin – miniseries
  • Article 99 (1992) – directed by Howard Deutch
  • Legacy of Lies (1992) – directed by Bradford Mays – TV movie
  • Mistress (1992) – directed by Barry Primus
  • Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser Story (1992) – directed by Alastair Reid – TV movie
  • Night and the City (1992) – directed by Irwin Winkler
  • Lincoln (1992) – directed by Peter W. Kunhardt & James A. Edgar – TV movie
  • Bride of Violence 2 (1993) – directed by Ralph L. Thomas – TV movie
  • Honey Sweet Love… (1994) – directed by Enrico Coletti
  • Elia Kazan: A Director’s Journey (1995) – directed by Richard Schickel – documentary – narrator
  • Two Much (1995) – directed by Fernando Trueba
  • Larry’s Visit (1996) – directed by Carlo Gabriel Nero
  • The Associate (1996) – directed by Donald Petrie
  • O. Henry’s Christmas (1996) – directed by John Driver, Francesco Quinn, & Jerry Zaks – TV movie
  • The Devil’s Twilight (1998) – directed by Bernardo Ruiz – short
  • Naked City: Justice with a Bullet (1998) – directed by Jeff Freilich – TV movie
  • Uninvited (1999) – directed by Carlo Gabriel Nero
  • The Bookfair Murders (2000) – directed by Wolfgang Panzer
  • Keeping the Faith (2000) – directed by Edward Norton
  • Monday Night Mayhem (2002) – directed by Ernest Dickerson – TV movie
  • Advice and Dissent (2002) – directed by Leib Cohen – short
  • Mystic River (2003) – directed by Clint Eastwood – uncredited
  • King of the Corner (2004) – directed by Peter Riegert
  • The Easter Egg Adventure (2004) – directed by John Michael Williams – TV movie
  • Testimony of the Human Spirit (2004) – directed by Sarah Kate Robbins
  • The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation (2005) – directed by John Canemaker – short
  • A Taste of Jupiter (2005) – directed by Derek Diorio
  • The Hoax (2006) – directed by Lasse Hallström
  • The Holiday (2006)* – directed by Nancy Meyers
  • Pola Negri: Life is a Dream in Cinema (2006) – directed by Mariusz Kotowski – documentary
  • Constantine’s Sword (2007) – directed by Oren Jacoby – documentary
  • Mama’s Boy (2007) – directed by Tim Hamilton
  • The Toe Tactic (2008) – directed by Emily Hubley
  • Vote and Die: Liszt for President (2008) – directed by Mark Mitchell
  • New York, I Love You (2008) – directed by Fatih Akin, Yvan Attal, Randall Balsmeyer, Allen Hughes, Shunji Iwai, Jiang Wen, Shekhar Kapur, Joshua Marston, Mira Nair, Natalie Portman, & Brett Ratner – anthology
  • Tickling Leo (2009) – directed by Jeremy Davidson
  • The Ghost Writer (2010) – directed by Roman Polanski – aka The Ghost
  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) – directed by Oliver Stone
  • The Train (2015) – directed by Asher Grodman – short – posthumous release