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Creator / Eli Wallach

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"Everyone thinks acting is easy. It's far from easy, but it's the most gratifying thing I do."

Eli Herschel Wallach (December 7, 1915 – June 24, 2014) was an American actor who worked in theatre, film, and television over the better part of six decades.

The son of two Jewish Polish immigrants, Wallach grew up in New York City's Little Italy, although he spent four years away at the University of Texas. An alumnus of the Actors Studio Method school of acting, Wallach had a prestigious career on the stage, which he had a particular affinity for, although he had plenty of roles in film and television. He was best known to some for being in seven Western movies: The Magnificent Seven (1960); How the West Was Won; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; Ace High; Mackenna's Gold; Don't Turn the Other Cheek! and The White The Yellow The Black.

After he met his future wife Anne Jackson in 1946, the two became known as a double act on Broadway, appearing in many plays together such as This Property Is Condemned, The Rose Tattoo, Rhinoceros, Luv, Lullaby, The Teahouse of the August Moon, The Typists and The Tiger. He and Jackson remained happily married until his passing from natural causes in 2014.

He was the healthiest cast member of The Misfits and the last surviving star of the film.

Though won Tonys and Emmys throughout his career, he was never nominated for any Academy Awards.

He was also the third Mr. Freeze in the 1960s Batman series, and received the most fan mail out of all his characters for it.

He once shared a bed with Clint Eastwood before making The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. When he told the story to Anne Jackson, she quipped, "Now you can brag that you're the only man to have slept with Clint Eastwood".

Tropes that apply to the actor:

  • Action Survivor: He was tough enough to have survived even his most dangerous stunts on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
    • Not to mention some unplanned stunts (more commonly called "accidents"). To wit:
      • Drank acid. In order to make the gold bags easier to rip, they were treated with acid to weaken the fabric. Since acid isn't something you want to carry in your hands, someone had appropriated a lemon soda bottle to carry it. Wallach didn't get the memo and took a swig. Reports differ on how much Wallach drank, but he ended up pounding a lot of milk to try and neutralize the acid, and had to film a few scenes with a pretty sore mouth.
      • During a hanging scene, someone fired a gun, causing the horse he was on to spook and bolt. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a problem, except Wallach's hands were still tied - behind his back. He stayed on that horse for over a mile.
      • Nearly lost his head. For real. During a stunt involving laying very near a set of railroad tracks, everything was accounted for... except the locomotive's low-hanging step rails. Said iron rails came within a whisker of relieving Wallach of a need to ever see a barber again.
  • And Starring: He was constantly billed as a "Special Guest Star" in films and TV, even when he played the leading role or the deuteragonist.
  • Cool Old Guy: His later roles had him often play characters like this and he was also one in real life, still acting well into his nineties and staying as sharp as ever.
  • Enforced Method Acting: During the filming of Baby Doll. When he had to look enraged about a cotton gin burning down, he imagined instead that a friend had burned down his house with his wife and children inside. This gave him the look that Elia Kazan wanted.
  • Facial Dialogue: He was an expert at this. Prominently featured in The Naked City episode A Death of Princes, where Bane's eyes dart frantically back and forth throughout the episode.
  • Fake Nationality: Many of his roles fell into this category.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: His four Spaghetti Western Characters fit this: Tuco is Choleric, Cacopoulos is Phlegmatic, Max is Sanguine and Sheriff Gideon is Melancholic.
  • Plays Great Ethnics: The child of two Polish Jews, but famous for playing Mexicans and Italians.

Selected filmography: