Lawrence Tierney

Born Mar 15, 1919

Lawrence Tierney was an American actor, known for his many screen portrayals of mobsters and hardened criminals, which mirrored his own frequent brushes with the law. Commenting on the DVD release of a Tierney film in 2005, a New York Times critic observed, "The hulking Tierney was not so much an actor as a frightening force of nature."… Read More

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Browse recent news and stories about Lawrence Tierney.

  • 70s Rewind: Dillinger Twitch
    Google News - Aug 20, 2011
  • On This Day In History: August 9 Prison, Parole And A Return To Fame Brooklyn Daily Eagle
    Google News - Aug 09, 2011
  • A Beginner's Guide To… Quentin Tarantino Front Row Reviews
    Google News - Jul 25, 2011
  • La Cinémathèque Ne Perd Pas Le Noir Ecrans
    Google News - Jun 16, 2011


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Lawrence Tierney.


1919 Birth Born on March 15, 1919.


1943 24 Years Old He was spotted there in 1943 by an RKO talent scout and given a film contract. … Read More
1945 26 Years Old His breakthrough was starring as famous 1930s bank robber John Dillinger in 1945’s Dillinger. … Read More
1947 28 Years Old In 1947 he played the lead in two films that have since gained cult followings, a suave but murderous conman in Robert Wise’s Born to Kill and a homicidal hitch-hiker in Felix E. Feist’s The Devil Thumbs a Ride. … Read More


1952 33 Years Old A turn as the villain who caused a train wreck in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 best-picture Oscar-winner, The Greatest Show on Earth earned a request by the director of Paramount Pictures to put Tierney under contract, but the idea was dropped when the actor was arrested for fighting in a bar. … Read More


1970 51 Years Old According to the book The Films of John G. Avildsen: Rocky, The Karate Kid and Other Underdogs, Tierney was supposed to have played the role of Joe Curran in Avildsen’s 1970 hit Joe but due to an incident two days before principal photography had begun, when he was arrested for assaulting a bartender who refused to serve him any more liquor, he was fired.
1975 56 Years Old In June 1975, Tierney was questioned by New York City police in connection with the apparent suicide of a 24-year-old woman who had jumped from the window of her high-rise apartment. … Read More
1976 57 Years Old He occasionally found film work, appearing in a bit part as a security guard in Otto Preminger’s Such Good Friends (1971), in Andy Warhol’s Bad in 1976 (which he later described as "a terrible experience—unprofessional"), as well as small roles in Cassavetes’ Gloria (1980) and The Prowler (1981).


1983 64 Years Old Tierney returned to Hollywood in December 1983 and, over the next 12 years, resumed a fairly successful acting career in film and television. … Read More
1984 65 Years Old In 1984, he appeared in a national campaign of an Excedrin commercial playing a construction worker.
1985 66 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1985, he had a small speaking role as the chief of New York City police in John Huston’s Prizzi’s Honor.
1988 69 Years Old In 1988, Tierney played a tough holodeck gangster in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and in 1990 had a memorable turn by guest starring as Elaine Benes’s father Alton Benes in the Seinfeld episode "The Jacket". … Read More
1994 75 Years Old …  That same year, his long-term agent, Don Gerler, recounted over Tierney's continuing troubles with the law: "A few years back 1994 I was still bailing him out of jail. … Read More
2002 83 Years Old Tierney died of pneumonia at age 82, at a Los Angeles nursing home on February 26, 2002, where he had been residing for over two years. … Read More
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