Burt Lancaster (November 2, 1913 - October 20, 1994) was an American actor. He was born Burton Stephen Lancaster in New York as one of five children of a postal worker. He grew up in East Harlem, and spent much time in the streets, where he developed his interest and skills for gymnastics. Later he worked in a circus as an acrobat until an injury forced him to give up the profession.
During WWII, Lancaster performed in Army shows. Although he was at the beginning not enthusiastic about acting, when he returned from service he tried out for and was offered a role in a Broadway play. It was not successful, but it drew the attention of a Hollywood agent who had him cast in the 1946 motion picture The Killers. Lancaster had significant acclaim and the next year he appeared in two more films. The following years, he played in a variety of movies, like dramas, thrillers, military and adventure. In two of these adventure films, The Flame and the Arrow and The Crimson Pirate, his mate and friend from the circus years, Nick Cravet, played co-leading roles, and both impressed the audiences with their acrobatic abilities.
In the mid 50's, Lancaster went on challenging himself accepting different roles. In most of them, be it drama, circus, westerns or other genres, the self-taught actor was very successful and evolved to a solid and versatile performer, who became a superstar. His work was recognized in 1960 when he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, a Golden Globe Award, and the New York Film Critics Award for his performance in Elmer Gantry.
During the latter part of his career, Lancaster left behind adventure and acrobatic movies, and portrayed distinguished characters, which earned him even more prestige from directors and audiences. He worked in several European productions with directors like Luchino Visconti or Bernardo Bertolucci. Seeking demanding roles, he was prepared to work for a much lower pay when he liked a part or a director. He even helped to finance movies he believed in for their artistic value. In addition, he produced some films pioneering the independent cinema, and promoted new directors like Sydney Pollack or John Frankenheimer. He also appeared in several TV films.
Lancaster guarded his private life with vigor. He was married three times and had five children. His first spouse, from 1935 to 1946, was June Ernst, from whom he divorced. His second marriage was with Norma Anderson, from 1946 to 1969, which ended also in divorce. His third wife was Susan Martin, whom he married in 1991. While he aged, his heart began to fail, what prevented him to continue to work in the measure his passion and determination demanded. He even had to undergo open-heart surgery. A cerebral stroke in 1990 kept him in a wheel-chair, partly paralyzed. In 1994, Lancaster died at home in Los Angeles from a heart attack.
|Table of contents|
3 External links
Academy Awards for Best Actor