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You are in: Home > 2005. 53rd Edition  > Donostia Awards > BEN GAZZARA

Raised in New York skid rows, Biagio Gazzara, known as Ben since childhood, grew up dreaming of becoming an actor. The son of a Sicilian immigrant, he soon drew attention for his brilliant and contained sobriety during his classes with Erwin Piscator and in his courses at the Actors’ Studio.

Gazzara made such a firm start to his acting in Broadway that his first stage appearance (Calder Willingham’s End as a Man) landed him the award for best actor in 1954. He was similarly nominated for his two subsequent works, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Hatful of Rain, both in 1956. He very soon received offers for television, where he played in and even directed numerous works. In cinema he debuted as the sadist cadet in J. Garfein’s The Strange One, becoming definitively established the following year, 1959, with Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder, nominated for seven Academy Awards.

John Cassavetes considered him to be his favourite actor, assigning him characters of complex psychology to whom he always brought a great deal of wealth: Husbands (1970), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) and Opening Night (1977). He similarly worked repeatedly with Peter Bogdanovich: Saint Jack (1979) and They All Laughed (1981). Under the orders of Marco Ferreri, he brought life to the heroes of Bukowski’s novels in Storie di ordinaria follia (Tales of Ordinary Madness), premiered by the San Sebastian Festival in 1981. He has never stopped collaborating with new directors: with David Mamet on The Spanish Prisoner (1997), with the Catalan Jesús Garay on Els de devant (1994), with Vincent Gallo on Buffalo ’66, with John Turturro in Illuminata or with Todd Solondz in Happiness.

A certain aura of outsider and fame of untameable actor has shaped his identity over a long career, still fully active at the age of 75, as shown by his participation in Lars Von Trier’s Dogville, or his most recent work on the collective film Paris, je t’aime (2006).


Ben Gazzara
08/28/1930 (New York, New York, EE.UU.)

As an actor

  • Paris, je t'aime (Several directors , 2006)
  • The Shore (Denis Adam Zervos, 2004)
  • Quiet Flows the Don (Sergei Bondarchuk, 2004)
  • Dogville (Lars von Trier, 2003)
  • L’ospite segreto (The Secret Guest) (Paolo Modugno, 2003)
  • Hysterical Blindness (Mira Nair, 2002) (TV)
  • Schubert (Jorge Castillo, 2002)
  • Brian's Song (John Gray, 2001) (TV)
  • Nella terra di nessuno (Gianfranco Giagni, 2001)
  • The List (Sylvain Guy, 2000)
  • Jack of Hearts (Serge Rodnunsky, 2000)
  • Undertaker's Paradise (Matthias X. Oberg, 2000)
  • Very Mean Men (Tony Vitale, 2000)
  • Believe (Robert Tinnell, 2000)
  • Blue Moon (John A. Gallagher, 2000)
  • Home Sweet Hoboken (Yoshifumi Hosoya, 2000)
  • Piovuto dal cielo (José María Sánchez, 2000) (TV)
  • The Thomas Crown Affair (John McTiernan, 1999)
  • Summer of Sam (Spike Lee, 1999)
  • “Tre stelle” (Pier Francesco Pingitore, 1999) (TV Series)
  • Un bacio nel buio (Roberto Rocco, 1999) (TV)
  • Paradise Cove (Bob Clapsaddle, 1999)
  • "Il Tesoro di Damasco" (1998) (TV Series)
  • Angelo nero (Roberto Rocco, 1998) (TV)
  • Illuminata (John Turturro, 1998)
  • Happiness (Todd Solondz, 1998)
  • The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen, 1998)
  • Buffalo '66 (Vincent Gallo, 1998)
  • Too Tired to Die (Wonsuk Chin, 1998)
  • Poor Liza (Slava Tsukerman, 1998)
  • Shark in a Bottle (Mark Anthony Little, 1998)
  • Valentine's Day (Duane Clark, 1998) (TV)
  • The Spanish Prisoner (David Mamet, 1997)
  • Stag (Gavin Wilding, 1997)
  • Shadow Conspiracy (George P. Cosmatos, 1997)
  • Farmer & Chase (Michael Seitzman, 1997)
  • The Notorious 7 (Glen Morgan, James Wong, 1997) (TV)
  • Vicious Circles (Sandy Whitelaw, 1997)
  • The Zone (Barry Zetlin, 1996)
  • Una donna in fuga (Roberto Rocco, 1996)
  • Ladykiller (Terence H. Winkless, 1996)
  • Convict Cowboy (Rod Holcomb, 1995) (TV)
  • Banditi (Stefano Mignucci, 1995)
  • Fatal Vows: The Alexandra O'Hara Story (John Power, 1994) (TV)
  • Parallel Lives (Linda Yellen, 1994) (TV)
  • Els de devant/Los de enfrente (Jesús Garay, 1994)
  • Les hirondelles ne meurent pas à Jerusalem (Ridha Behi, 1994)
  • Nefertiti, figlia del sole (Guy Gilles, 1994)
  • Sherwood's Travels (Ron Coswell, Steve Miner, 1994)
  • Love, Honor & Obey: The Last Mafia Marriage (John Patterson, 1993) (TV)
  • Blindsided (Thomas Michael Donnelly, 1993) (TV)
  • Lies Before Kisses (Lou Antonio, 1991) (TV)
  • Per sempre (Walter Hugo Khouri, 1991)
  • People Like Us (William Hale, 1990) (TV)
  • Oltre l'oceano (Ben Gazzara, 1990)
  • Road House (Rowdy Herrington, 1989)
  • Quicker Than the Eye (Nicolas Gessner, 1989)
  • Don Bosco (Leandro Castellani, 1988)
  • Downpayment on Murder (Waris Hussein, 1987) (TV)
  • Police Story: The Freeway Killings (William A. Graham, 1987) (TV)
  • Il Giorno prima (Giuliano Montaldo, 1987)
  • Figlio mio infinitamente caro (Valentino Orsini, 1987)
  • Champagne amer (Ridha Behi, Henri Vart, 1986)
  • A Letter to Three Wives (Larry Elikann, 1985) (TV)
  • An Early Frost (John Erman, 1985) (TV)
  • Il Camorrista (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1985)
  • La donna delle meraviglie (Alberto Bevilacqua, 1985)
  • Uno scandalo perbene (Pasquale Festa Campanile, 1984)
  • La ragazza di Trieste (Pasquale Festa Campanile, 1983)
  • A Question of Honor (Jud Taylor, 1982) (TV)
  • Storie di ordinaria follia (Marco Ferreri, 1981)
  • They All Laughed (Peter Bogdanovich, 1981)
  • Inchon (Terence Young, 1981)
  • Saint Jack (Peter Bogdanovich, 1979)
  • Bloodline (Terence Young, 1979)
  • Opening Night (John Cassavetes, 1977)
  • The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald (Gordon Davidson, David Greene, 1977) (TV)
  • The Death of Richie (Paul Wendkos, 1977) (TV)
  • Voyage of the Damned (Stuart Rosenberg, 1976)
  • High Velocity (Remi Kramer, 1976)
  • The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (John Cassavetes, 1976)
  • Capone (Steve Carver, 1975)
  • "QB VII" (Tom Gries, 1974 (TV Series)
  • Maneater (Vince Edwards, 1973) (TV)
  • The Neptune Factor (Daniel Petrie, 1973)
  • You'll Never See Me Again (Jeannot Szwarc, 1973) (TV)
  • Afyon oppio (Ferdinando Baldi, 1972)
  • Pursuit (Michael Crichton, 1972) (TV)
  • The Family Rico (Paul Wendkos, 1972) (TV)
  • Fireball Forward (Marvin J. Chomsky, 1972) (TV)
  • When Michael Calls (Philip Leacock, 1972) (TV)
  • Husbands (John Cassavetes, 1970)
  • The Bridge at Remagen (John Guillermin, 1969)
  • If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (Mel Stuart, 1969)
  • A Rage to Live (Walter Grauman, 1965)
  • "Run for Your Life" (Leslie H. Martinson, John Rich, 1965-68) (TV Series)
  • Carol for Another Christmas (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1964) (TV)
  • "Arrest and Trial" (Earl Bellamy, Lewis Milestone, Jack Smight, 1963) (TV)
  • Convicts 4 (Millard Kaufman, 1962)
  • La città prigioniera (Joseph Anthony, 1962)
  • The Young Doctors (Phil Karlson, 1961)
  • Cry Vengeance! (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1961) (TV)
  • Risate di gioia (Mario Monicelli, 1960)
  • Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger, 1959)
  • The Strange One (Jack Garfein, 1957)

As a director

  • Oltre l'oceano (1990)
  • Columbo: Troubled Waters (1975) (TV)
  • Columbo: A Friend in Deed (1974) (TV)
  • "The Name of the Game" (1968) (TV Series)

A a screenwriter

  • Oltre l'oceano (1990)

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