Edward G. Robinson (born Emanuel Goldenberg; December 12, 1893 January 26, 1973) was one of the most famous actors of The Golden Age of Hollywood.
Robinson was born in Bucharest, Romania. When he was ten, his family emigrated to the United States to escape anti-Semitic persecution. He began acting on the stage as a teenager, which was when he adopted a much less Jewish-sounding Stage Name. Robinson got a couple of parts in silent movies but hit it big after the transition to talking films led to Hollywood producers looking for fresh talent. His Star-Making Role came in the smash hit gangster film Little Caesar in 1931. Robinson's portrayal of the brutal, murderous gangster Rico Bandello wound up typecasting the actor — a soft-spoken, educated man who in Real Life could speak seven languages and collected fine art — as a tough guy. His manner of speaking in that film, including the Verbal Tic of ending sentences with "See?" (and to a lesser degree, starting them with "M'yeah!"), also established a stereotype of wiseguy gangster talk which became so iconic that it was parodied in a number of Looney Tunes shorts and even used as a gag 80 years later in The Muppets. It was also the inspiration for the voice of Chief Wiggum on The Simpsons.
In the 1940s he was able to branch out to some extent from his tough-guy roles, playing such characters as a humble Norwegian immigrant farmer in Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, a pathetic bank clerk manipulated by a prostitute in Scarlet Street, and a shrewd insurance fraud investigator on the heels of Fred MacMurray's murderer in Double Indemnity. He even parodied his earlier gangster image in such comedic films as Larceny, Inc. and A Slight Case of Murder.
He very nearly played Dr. Zaius in Planet of the Apes (1968), and there does exist some test footage of him in the orangutan makeup, but he found it too uncomfortable and ultimately backed out of the role.
Robinson was a committed liberal and an anti-Nazi activist. His political activism got him in trouble during The Hollywood Blacklist era and he spent the better part of the 1950s unemployed, but enjoyed a career bounce-back late in life. He died 12 days after finishing his last film role, in Soylent Green. He was given a special Honorary Academy Award, but died of cancer two months before he could receive it.
Edward G. Robinson on TV Tropes:
- Little Caesar (1931)
- Five Star Final (1931)
- The Man with Two Faces (1934)
- The Whole Town's Talking (1935)
- Kid Galahad (1937)
- The Last Gangster (1937)
- Brother Orchid (1940)
- The Sea Wolf (1941)
- Moscow Strikes Back (1942) (documentary narrator)
- Double Indemnity (1944)
- The Woman in the Window (1944)
- Scarlet Street (1945)
- The Stranger (1946)
- Key Largo (1948)
- The Ten Commandments (1956)
- The Outrage (1964)
- Cheyenne Autumn (1964)
- The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
- Batman (1966) (a guest spot in the 1967 episode "Batman's Satisfaction")
- Mackenna's Gold (1969)
- Night Gallery (in the 1971 segment "The Messiah on Mott Street")
- Soylent Green (1973)