Screencap via The Hollywood Collection Youtube Channel
CAIRO – 20 October 2017: On October 20, 1994, famed Hollywood actor Burt Lancaster passed away of a heart attack in California at the age of 80. Known for being able to tackle macho tough guy and more emotionally sensitive roles, Lancaster’s career spanned over four decades.
Born in New York City on November 2, 1913, Lancaster was quite acrobatic from a young age, and joined the circus at the age of 19 until an injury forced him to quit. Shortly after, he enlisted to fight in WWII, where he began to take an interest in acting after serving for the United Service Organizations charity. He auditioned for Broadway and got a role as an army sergeant, and was quickly noticed by Hollywood executives.
Come 1946, Lancaster would officially debut alongside Ava Gardner in an adaptation of an Ernest Hemingway noir story dubbed “the Killers,” though his first actual role was in “Desert Fury,” which was delayed until 1947. The Killers showcased Lancaster’s specialty in portraying both emotion and ruggedness, and he quickly became an audience favorite.
Lancaster was able to maintain control over his career and choose his roles, and even became one of the first Hollywood stars to form their own production company, helping to cofound Hecht-Hill-Lancaster. Amongst the more notable films the company produced is the 1955 romance “Marty,” which won four Oscars.
In 1953 Lancaster would be nominated for his first Oscar award in “From Here to Eternity,” which featured Frank Sinatra and Deborah Kerr. His career would further take off by the 1960s, with Lancaster winning his first Oscar thanks to “Elmer Gantry,” where he played a conman preacher. He would then star in “Judgement at Nuremberg” a year later and receive his second Oscar nomination for the 1962 movie “the Birdman of Alcatraz.”
Lancaster was known to have frequently starred alongside Kirk Douglas, who was a close friend of his, and the two worked on seven movies together, starting with 1948’s “I Walk Alone.” Throughout the 60s and 70s he continued to star in various critically acclaimed films such as “the Leopard” (1963), “the Swimmer” (1970) and “Zulu Dawn” (1979).
His career began winding down as he grew older, though Lancaster refused to stop acting. In 1980 he co-starred in Atlantic City, where his portrayal of an aging gangster got him another Oscar nomination. In 1989 he starred in one of his last film roles, co-starring alongside Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams.”
Lancaster’s final role before his death was in the 1991 “Separate But Equal” TV miniseries.