Lee J. Cobb

Last updated
Lee J. Cobb
Lee J. Cobb 1960s.JPG
circa 1960s
Born
Leo Jacoby

(1911-12-08)December 8, 1911
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
DiedFebruary 11, 1976(1976-02-11) (aged 64)
OccupationActor
Years active1934–1976
Spouse(s)
Helen Beverley
(m. 1940;div. 1952)

Mary Brako Hirsch(m. 1957)
Children4, including Julie Cobb

Lee J. Cobb (born Leo Jacoby, [1] [2] December 8, 1911 February 11, 1976) was an American actor. [3] He is best known for his performances in On the Waterfront (1954), 12 Angry Men (1957), and The Exorcist (1973). He also played the role of Willy Loman in the original Broadway production of Arthur Miller's 1949 play Death of a Salesman under the direction of Elia Kazan. On television, Cobb starred in the first four seasons of the Western series The Virginian . He typically played arrogant, intimidating and abrasive characters, but often had roles as respectable figures such as judges and police officers. He was twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for The Brothers Karamazov (1958) and On the Waterfront (1954).

<i>On the Waterfront</i> 1954 film by Elia Kazan

On the Waterfront is a 1954 American crime drama film, directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon Brando and features Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Pat Henning and Eva Marie Saint in her film debut. The soundtrack score was composed by Leonard Bernstein. The film was suggested by "Crime on the Waterfront" by Malcolm Johnson, a series of articles published in November–December 1948 in the New York Sun which won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, but the screenplay by Budd Schulberg is directly based on his own original story. The film focuses on union violence and corruption amongst longshoremen, while detailing widespread corruption, extortion, and racketeering on the waterfronts of Hoboken, New Jersey.

<i>12 Angry Men</i> (1957 film) 1957 American drama film by Sidney Lumet

12 Angry Men is a 1957 American courtroom drama film directed by Sidney Lumet, adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. This courtroom drama tells the story of a jury of 12 men as they deliberate the conviction or acquittal of a defendant on the basis of reasonable doubt, forcing the jurors to question their morals and values. In the United States, a verdict in most criminal trials by jury must be unanimous. The defendant is an 18-year-old male. There are two witnesses: a lady from across the street and an old man who lives below the defendant.

<i>The Exorcist</i> (film) 1973 film directed by William Friedkin

The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel. The film is directed by William Friedkin and stars Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, and Jason Miller. It is the first film in the Exorcist series, and follows the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and her mother's attempt to rescue her through an exorcism conducted by two priests.

Contents

Background

Cobb was born in New York City, to a Jewish family of Russian and Romanian extraction. [4] He grew up in the Bronx, New York, on Wilkins Avenue, near Crotona Park. His parents were Benjamin (Benzion) Jacob, a compositor for a foreign-language newspaper, and Kate (Neilecht). [5] Cobb studied at New York University before making his film debut in The Vanishing Shadow (1934). He joined the Manhattan-based Group Theatre in 1935. [6]

Russia transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia

Russia, or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is by a considerable margin the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with about 146.80 million people as of 2019, including Crimea. About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world and the second largest city in Europe; other major cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.

Romania Sovereign state in Europe

Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the southeast, Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, and Moldova to the east. It has a predominantly temperate-continental climate. With a total area of 238,397 square kilometres (92,046 sq mi), Romania is the 12th largest country and also the 7th most populous member state of the European Union, having almost 20 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest, and other major urban areas include Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Constanța, Craiova, and Brașov.

New York University private research university in New York, NY, United States

New York University (NYU) is a private research university based in New York City. Founded in 1831, NYU's historical campus is in Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan. NYU also has degree-granting campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, and academic centers in Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Washington, D.C.

Career

Cobb performed summer stock with the Group Theatre in 1936, when they summered at Pine Brook Country Club in Nichols, Connecticut. [7] During World War II, Cobb served in the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. [8]

In American theater, summer stock theatre is a theatre that presents stage productions only in the summer. The name combines the season with the tradition of staging shows by a resident company, reusing stock scenery and costumes. Summer stock theatres frequently take advantage of seasonal weather by having their productions outdoors or under tents set up temporarily for their use.

Pine Brook Country Club

Pine Brook Country Club began when Benjamin Plotkin purchased Pinewood Lake and the surrounding countryside on Mischa Hill in the historic village of Nichols, Connecticut. Plotkin built an auditorium with a revolving stage and forty rustic cabins and incorporated as the Pine Brook Country Club in 1930. Plotkin's dream was to market the rural lakeside club as a summer resort for people to stay and enjoy theatrical productions. The Club remained in existence until major fighting broke out in Europe in the mid-1940s and was reorganized as a private lake association in 1944.

Nichols, Connecticut human settlement in United States of America

Nichols, a historic village in southeastern Trumbull in Fairfield County, Connecticut, is named after the family who maintained a large farm in its center for almost 300 years. The Nichols Farms Historic District, which encompasses part of the village center, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cobb entered films in the 1930s, successfully playing middle-aged and even older characters while he was still a youth. He was cast as the Kralahome in the 1946 non musical film Anna and the King of Siam . He also played the sympathetic doctor in The Song of Bernadette and appeared as Derek Flint's (James Coburn) supervisor in the James Bond spy spoofs In Like Flint and Our Man Flint . He reprised his role of Willy Loman in the 1966 CBS television adaptation of the famous play Death of a Salesman, which included Gene Wilder, James Farentino, Bernie Kopell, and George Segal. Cobb was nominated for an Emmy Award for the performance. Mildred Dunnock, who had co starred in both the original stage version and the 1951 film version, again repeated her role as Linda, Willy's devoted wife.

<i>Anna and the King of Siam</i> (film) 1946 drama film directed by John Cromwell

Anna and the King of Siam is a 1946 drama film directed by John Cromwell. An adaptation of the 1944 novel of the same name by Margaret Landon, it was based on the fictionalized diaries of Anna Leonowens, an Anglo-Indian woman who claimed to be British and became governess in the Royal Court of Siam during the 1860s. Darryl F. Zanuck read Landon's book in galleys and immediately bought the film rights.

<i>The Song of Bernadette</i> (film) 1943 film by Henry King

The Song of Bernadette is a 1943 biographical drama film based on the 1941 novel of the same name by Franz Werfel. It stars Jennifer Jones in the title role, which portrays the story of Bernadette Soubirous who, from February to July 1858 in Lourdes, France, reported eighteen visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The film was directed by Henry King, from a screenplay written by George Seaton.

James Coburn American film and television actor

James Harrison Coburn III was an American actor. He featured in more than 70 films, largely action roles, and made 100 television appearances during a 45-year career, ultimately winning an Academy Award in 1999 for his supporting role as Glen Whitehouse in Affliction.

How the West Was Won Westwon trailer Cobb.png
How the West Was Won

In August 1955, while filming The Houston Story , Cobb suffered a heart attack and was replaced by Gene Barry. [9]

<i>The Houston Story</i> 1956 film by William Castle

The Houston Story is a 1956 crime film noir directed by William Castle starring Gene Barry, Barbara Hale and Edward Arnold.

Gene Barry American stage, screen, and television actor

Gene Barry was an American stage, screen, and television actor. Barry is best remembered for his leading roles in the films The Atomic City (1952) and The War of The Worlds (1953) and for his portrayal of the title characters in the TV series Bat Masterson and Burke's Law, among many roles.

In 1957, he appeared in Sidney Lumet's 12 Angry Men, the unique trial jury deliberations drama, as the abrasive Juror #3. In 1959, on CBS' DuPont Show of the Month , he starred in the dual roles of Miguel de Cervantes and Don Quixote in the play I, Don Quixote , which years later became the musical Man of La Mancha . Cobb also appeared as the Medicine Bow, Wyoming owner of the Shiloh Ranch, Judge Henry Garth in the first four seasons (19621966), of the long-running NBC Western television series The Virginian (19621971).

Sidney Lumet American director, producer and screenwriter

Sidney Arthur Lumet was an American director, producer, and screenwriter with over 50 films to his credit. He was nominated five times for the Academy Award: four for Best Director for 12 Angry Men (1957), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Network (1976), and The Verdict (1982) and one for Best Adapted Screenplay for Prince of the City (1981). He did not win an individual Academy Award, but did receive an Academy Honorary Award, and 14 of his films were nominated for Oscars, including Network, which was nominated for ten and won four.

<i>DuPont Show of the Month</i> television series

DuPont Show of the Month was a 90-minute television anthology series that aired monthly on CBS from 1957 to 1961. The DuPont Company also sponsored a weekly half-hour anthology drama series hosted by June Allyson, The DuPont Show with June Allyson (1959–61).

Miguel de Cervantes Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was a Spanish writer who is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world's preeminent novelists. His novel Don Quixote has been translated into over 140 languages and dialects; it is, after the Bible, the most-translated book in the world.

In 1968, his performance as King Lear with Stacy Keach as Edmund, René Auberjonois as the Fool, and Philip Bosco as Kent achieved the longest run (72 performances) for the play in Broadway history. [10]

One of his final film roles was that of Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police homicide detective Lt. Kinderman in the 1973 horror film The Exorcist about a demonic possession of a teen-age girl (Linda Blair) in Georgetown, D. C.

His last television role was as a stalwart overworked elderly physician still making house calls in urban Baltimore, in Doctor Max, a TV pilot for a potential series which never materialized.

He appeared alongside British actor Kenneth Griffith in an ABC television documentary on the American Revolution called Suddenly an Eagle, which was broadcast six months after his death.

Political activity

Cobb was accused of being a Communist in 1951 testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) of the U.S. House of Representatives of the Congress, by Larry Parks, himself an admitted former Communist Party member. Cobb was called to testify before HUAC, but refused to do so for two years until, with his career threatened by the blacklist, he relented in 1953 and gave testimony in which he named 20 people as former members of the Communist Party USA. [11]

Later, Cobb explained why he "named names", saying:

When the facilities of the government of the United States are drawn on an individual it can be terrifying. The blacklist is just the opening gambit—being deprived of work. Your passport is confiscated. That's minor. But not being able to move without being tailed is something else. After a certain point it grows to implied as well as articulated threats, and people succumb. My wife did, and she was institutionalized. The HUAC did a deal with me. I was pretty much worn down. I had no money. I couldn't borrow. I had the expenses of taking care of the children. Why am I subjecting my loved ones to this? If it's worth dying for, and I am just as idealistic as the next fellow. But I decided it wasn't worth dying for, and if this gesture was the way of getting out of the penitentiary I'd do it. I had to be employable again.

— Interview with Victor Navasky for the 1980 book Naming Names

Following the hearing, he resumed his career and worked with Elia Kazan and Budd Schulberg, two other HUAC "friendly witnesses", on the 1954 film On the Waterfront, which is widely seen as an allegory and apologia for testifying.

Personal life

Cobb married Yiddish theatre and film actress Helen Beverley in 1940. [6] They had two children, including actress Julie Cobb, before their 1952 divorce. Cobb's second marriage was to school teacher Mary Hirsch, with whom he had two more children before his death. [6]

Death

Cobb died of a heart attack in February 1976 in Woodland Hills, California, and was buried in Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. [12]

He was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981. [13]

Selected Broadway credits

Filmography

Cobb as Johnny Friendly with Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (1954) Lee j cobb brando on the waterfront 2.jpg
Cobb as Johnny Friendly with Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (1954)
Cobb as Johnny Friendly in On the Waterfront (1954) Lee j cobb on the waterfront 4.jpg
Cobb as Johnny Friendly in On the Waterfront (1954)
With William Holden in Golden Boy (1939) William Holden-Cobb-Golden Boy.jpg
With William Holden in Golden Boy (1939)

Radio appearances

YearProgramEpisode/source
1945 Suspense "The Bet" [14]
1946 Hollywood Star Time The Song of Bernadette [15]

See also

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References

  1. Cinema - Part 1, Issues 205-210 - Page 158
  2. Joseph F. Clarke (1977). Pseudonyms. BCA. p. 39.
  3. Obituary Variety , February 18, 1976.
  4. Vernon Scott (January 4, 1976). "Bicentennial a 'very special event" for actor Lee J. Cobb". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved March 24, 2009.
  5. United States Census for 1920, Bronx (New York) Assembly District 4, District 254, Page 16
  6. 1 2 3 "Lee J. Cobb Biography". Biography.com . Archived from the original on May 21, 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  7. "Pinewood Lake website retrieved on 2010-09-10". Pinewoodlake.org. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  8. "World War II: The Movie | History of Flight | Air & Space Magazine". Airspacemag.com. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  9. Dixon, Wheeler W. Lost in the Fifties: Recovering Phantom Hollywood (2005) p. 54
  10. The Broadway League. "King Lear | IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". IBDB. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  11. Navasky, Victor (2003). Naming Names (Reprint ed.). Hill & Wang. ISBN   978-0809001835.
  12. "Biography for Lee J. Cobb". tcm.com. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  13. "''The New York Times'', March 3, 1981 - ''26 Elected to the Theater Hall of Fame''". Nytimes.com. 1981-03-03. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  14. "Escape and Suspense!: Suspense - The Bet". www.escape-suspense.com.
  15. "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 41 (2): 32–41. Spring 2015.