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Anthony Franciosa Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (4)  | Trivia (12)  | Personal Quotes (1)  | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Born in New York City, New York, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (stroke)
Birth NameAnthony Papaleo
Nickname Tony
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Franciosa was born Anthony Papaleo on October 25, 1928, in New York City. The son of a construction worker and seamstress who divorced when he was a year old, he seldom saw his father after this and never man really got to know the other. After graduating high school, during a visit to a YMCA to take a free dance lesson, Franciosa came across an audition for a play. Intrigued, he auditioned and was offered a part.

Franciosa began acting professionally, taking his mother's maiden name as his stage name, and had his breakthrough in Calder Willingham's play "End as a Man" (1955), which opened off-Broadway at the Theatre de Lys on September 15, 1953 and transferred to Broadway on October 14 after 32 performances. It was directed by Jack Garfein and co-starred Ben Gazzara (who won a Theatre World Award and would appear in the movie version), both of whom were associated with the Actors Studio, as was Franciosa. His first wife, Beatrice Bakalyar, was a writer.

In 1955, he first appeared in the role that would make him famous: "Polo Pope", the brother of a heroin addict, in an Actors Studio workshop production of Michael V. Gazzo's A Hatful of Rain (1957). The production later moved to Broadway, where Franciosa earned an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Tony Award nomination. Hollywood beckoned, and he made his film debut in Robert Wise's This Could Be the Night (1957) with Paul Douglas and Jean Simmons.

He appeared in Actors Studio co-founder Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd (1957) before reprising the role of "Polo Pope" in Fred Zinnemann's A Hatful of Rain (1957). Franciosa won an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in 1958 for "Hatful" and, with his good looks, was a very hot commodity in Hollywood. He followed up his strong debut by starring in a variety of top A-list films, including George Cukor's Wild Is the Wind (1957), Martin Ritt's The Long, Hot Summer (1958) and The Naked Maja (1958), in which he played painter Francisco Jose de Goya, opposite Ava Gardner.

Franciosa's career began to run out of momentum almost as quickly as it had started, as he rapidly developed a reputation as a combative personality, earning him a reputation as "difficult". Although he starred in George Roy Hill's adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Period of Adjustment (1962), by 1964 he was reduced to appearing in a TV series, Valentine's Day (1964), which lasted a single season. In 1968 he was cast as one of three alternating leads in the television series The Name of the Game (1968), a spin-off from the 1966 TV movie Fame Is the Name of the Game (1966) (the first TV-movie ever made as a pilot for a TV series that was subsequently picked up as a series). Although the show was popular with audiences, Franciosa was fired after appearing in the first two seasons; NBC justified giving him the sack because the actor's mercurial temper was causing too many problems on the set. Looking back at his career in a 1996 interview, Franciosa acknowledged that he was too inexperienced to handle sudden stardom. "It was an incredible amount of attention, and I wasn't quite mature enough psychologically and emotionally for it".

He starred in the series Matt Helm: Matt Helm (1975), which only lasted one season, but his talent and charm meant he was in demand throughout the five decades of his career, though not in the kinds of roles that characterized the first two decades of his star period. He continued to act in supporting roles in movies and starring roles in TV movies and series until he retired in 1996. He appeared in one last project, "Manifest Mysteries: Coronation" (2006), shortly before his death on January 19, 2006 in Los Angeles, at the age of 77, five days after that of his ex-wife, actress Shelley Winters.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (4)

Rita Thiel (29 November 1970 - 19 January 2006) ( his death) ( 2 children)
Judy Balaban (31 December 1961 - 18 June 1970) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
Shelley Winters (4 May 1957 - 18 November 1960) ( divorced)
Beatrice Bakalyar (17 May 1952 - 1957) ( divorced)

Trivia (12)

Starred in the first TV-movie produced as a TV series pilot to be picked up as a regular series, the two-hour TV-movie Fame Is the Name of the Game (1966), which was produced by Universal for NBC Universal and NBC were the same entities that pioneered the made-for-TV movie (with 1964's See How They Run (1964), the first full-length film produced especially for home television). The series, The Name of the Game (1968), debuted in 1968 with three leads: Franciosa, Gene Barry and Robert Stack. Franciosa subsequently was fired from the show and, instead of being replaced by one actor, was replaced by a series of actors filling in on his rotation including Robert Culp, Peter Falk, Darren McGavin, and Robert Wagner.
Father of actor Christopher Franciosa and Marco Franciosa with wife, Rita Thiel; and Nina Franciosa with wife Judy Balaban.
Mentioned in Tom Waits's song "Goin' Out West".
Was nominated for Broadway's 1956 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Dramatic) for "A Hatful of Rain," a role he recreated in an Oscar-nominated performance in the film version with the same name, A Hatful of Rain (1957).
Franciosa's first wife, Beatrice Bakalyar, was a writer.
Troubled characters made him a Hollywood star in the 1950s and 60s but combative behavior on movie sets hampered his career. In 1957 he served 10 days in the Los Angeles County jail for slugging a press photographer.
A fervent civil rights activist, he was joined by Marlon Brando and Paul Newman in Gadsden, Alabama in 1963 for a desegregation drive.
Earned an acting scholarship and became an alumnus of Lee Strasberg's famed Actor's Studio, where he met future wife Shelley Winters.
Was due to appear as American mob boss Charlie in The Long Good Friday (1980). After accepting the job and flying from Los Angeles to London to film, he was unhappy with some of the rewrites and just returned home. The part was then given to Eddie Constantine.
According to ex-wife Judy Balaban, as recounted in her book "Bridesmaids," her father, Barney Balaban, then head of Paramount Pictures, strongly disapproved of her marriage to Franciosa. In retaliation, he initiated a private blackballing of Franciosa within the film industry, leading to a decline of A-projects being offered to Franciosa in the early 1960s.
As of 2009, he is only one of six performers who won a Golden Globe Award as Best Lead Actor/Actress in a Motion Picture Drama without being nominated for an Oscar for that same role (his for Career (1959)). The others are Spencer Tracy in The Actress (1953), Omar Sharif in Doctor Zhivago (1965), Shirley MacLaine in Madame Sousatzka (1988), Jim Carrey in The Truman Show (1998) and Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road (2008).
Alumnus of Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

Personal Quotes (1)

I went to Hollywood in the mid-'50s, and I would say I went out there a little too early. It was an incredible amount of attention, and I wasn't quite mature enough psychologically and emotionally for [it].

Salary (1)

Call It a Lifetime (1963) $10,000

See also

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