Rod Steiger
Actor
Rod Steiger
Rodney Stephen "Rod" Steiger was an Academy Award-winning American actor known for his performances in such films as On the Waterfront, The Big Knife, Oklahoma!, The Harder They Fall, Across the Bridge, The Pawnbroker, Doctor Zhivago, In the Heat of the Night, and Waterloo as well as the television programs Marty and Jesus of Nazareth.
Biography
Rod Steiger's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Rod Steiger from around the web
Oscar-Winning Cinematographer Haskell Wexler Dies At 93
Huffington Post - about 1 year
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Haskell Wexler, one of Hollywood's most famous and honored cinematographers and one whose innovative approach helped him win Oscars for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and the Woody Guthrie biopic "Bound for Glory," died Sunday. He was 93. Wexler died peacefully in his sleep, his son, Oscar-nominated sound man Jeff Wexler, told The Associated Press. A liberal activist, Wexler photographed some of the most socially relevant and influential films of the 1960s and 1970s, including the Jane Fonda-Jon Voight anti-war classic, "Coming Home," the Sidney Poitier-Rod Steiger racial drama "In the Heat of the Night" and the Oscar-winning adaptation of Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." He was also the rare cinematographer known enough to the general public to receive a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. "He was a wonderful father. I owe most of who I am to his wisdom and guidance," said his son, nominated for Oscars himself for "Independence Day" a ...
Article Link:
Huffington Post article
The International Press Academy Names Ellen Burstyn And Martyn Burke To Receive Major Honors
Yahoo News - about 2 years
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Legendary actress Ellen Burstyn and journalist/ novelist/ director Martyn Burke will be on-hand to receive the most prestigious honors bestowed by the International Press Academy, the largest group of entertainment journalists to recognize accomplishments in the film, television and digital entertainment industry. Ellen Burstyn will join the ranks of Rod Steiger, Susan Sarandon, Gena Rowlands, Mitzi Gaynor, Martin Landau, Kathy Bates, Michael York, Terence Stamp, Mike Medavoy and others to receive one of the IPA's highest honors, the Mary Pickford Award for her outstanding artistic contribution to the entertainment industry.
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Yahoo News article
Nina Castelnuovo's Times Photo
Huffington Post - about 3 years
Nina Castelnuovo's photograph of a faceless 28-year-old Tel Aviv woman, which accompanied the New York Times front page story "In Israel, A Push to Test For Cancer Gene Leaves Many Conflicted" (NYT, 11/26/13) presents the viewer with a congeries of troubling emotions. It's an iconic photo that goes beyond the substance of the article itself. The woman in the photo has pulled down the strap of her blouse to reveal the scar on her breast, where ostensibly a lump had been removed. But the breast is still defiantly intact and there is even the insinuation of the aureole. Above the incision is a tattoo of a Jewish star. The shot recalls a l964 film called The Pawnbroker in which a woman walks into Rod Steiger's shop and pulls up her blouse in order to get what she wants. The effect of the Times image is a little like that in The Pawnbroker. Steiger, who plays a refugee who'd spent time in a concentration camp, is immediately flooded with memories, just as the reader of the Times story ...
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Huffington Post article
David S. Simon: The Loan Arranger
Huffington Post - over 3 years
I used to joke that Bernie Madoff was "The Man of Steal" but my newest title pun is the above and after watching Disney take a $150 million bath, I gotta say I have mixed feelings about it. Being a baby that once upon a time went boom, I grew up on "The Lone Ranger" and while I could never figure out why he had to tilt back his horse in the beginning of the show (did he run out of room?), the idea of silver bullets, a faithful Indian companion, the white hat, the cool tight like tights outfit and that Zorro mask just made the whole thing five-year old cool. These guys never seemed to have to shower or eat. They seemed to run on pure high-octane heroism. And by virtue of the fact that every dame in the west batted her eyes at the Lone Ranger, he, and for that matter, his horse, Silver, emitted no western odor. This was the life! You got to sleep by a camp fire, never deal with snow (I lived in NY) or scalding summers (the man literally had no seasonal reason for ever havi ...
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Huffington Post article
Jay Weston: Sidney Poitier's New Novel Is Superb!
Huffington Post - over 3 years
I read two books by famous show business personalities this weekend. One was a first novel by Sidney Poitier, Montaro Caine, while the other was a memoir, The Friedkin Connection, by film director William Friedkin. For various reasons, I have chosen to do a full review of only one of them, Sidney's novel, although I am also recommending Billy's searingly honest memoir, if only for its depiction of how he managed to make two of the most enduring films of our time, The French Connection and The Exorcist. I have had two incidents working with him of films not getting made (Judgement Day with Gregory Peck and The Hostages), which I might have had to recount in detail if I did a review, so I took the advice of a dear friend and deferred in that respect. After all, he is happily married to one of the great women of our world, the beautiful Sherry Lansing. (And I happened to have been at Richard Cohen's Oscar-viewing party where they met some 25 years ago. She said to him, ...
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Huffington Post article
John Farr: Dressing Up: The 10 Best Period Costume Movies
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
One of the singular joys of living in New York City is The Metropolitan Museum of Art, conveniently situated right across the Park from us. I was reminded of this on Wednesday when I attended their "Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity" exhibition. Combining artwork and costumes, it showed how the finest French impressionist painters of the late-19th century were celebrating Paris as the epicenter of style and fashion in their work, by painting not just glorious gardens and vistas, but the colorful, elaborate outfits worn by the city's most prominent women. Admittedly, I'm a sucker for the Impressionists. Were I Bill Gates, I'd be snapping up any Monet or Renoir I could lay my hands on. And though you won't see me at any "Fashion Week" events, I also love and revere timeless fashion and style, by which I mean: a) Clean styles, cuts and color sense that worked in 1930, and will work in 2030. b) Fashions from the past -- say, two centuries (I'm less inter ...
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Huffington Post article
Dr. Franklin Ruehl, Ph.D.: Two More Starlets Who Met Tragic Demises!
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
Noted TV actress Inger Stevens and silent screen star Martha Mansfield are two female thespians who suffered tragic, premature deaths! Inger Stevens (1934-1970): This Swedish blue-eyed blonde captivator (born Inger Stensland in Stockholm) starred in the doomsday epic, The World, The Flesh, And The Devil(1959), as Sarah Crandall, the survivor of a nuclear holocaust. A white racist (Mel Ferrer, who was a pianist with new hands in 1967's The Hands of Orlac) and a miner (Harry Belafonte, who was a Jewish angel named Alex Levine in 1970 The Angel Levine) joined her as the only other surviving humans on the planet. This dark, apocalyptic work had a surprise ending: after it appeared certain that one of the men would kill the other as they hunted each other through Manhattan's deserted canyons, the trio wound up skipping off hand-in-hand, determined to make the best of what fate had offered them. Of course, Inger is best remembered for two superb 1960 episodes of The Twilight Z ...
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Huffington Post article
Jay Weston: Mamet's American Buffalo Opens at the Geffen Playhouse!
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
About two weeks ago I wrote a rather scathing, almost angry review on Huffington about David Mamet's HBO film, which he wrote and directed, on the possible murder of an actress by music mogul Phil Spector. Angry, yes, because I know how good Mamet can be when he's cooking on all cylinders. You see, many years ago, in late October of 1983, I reviewed a Broadway production of David Mamet's American Buffalo with Al Pacino and said that this play was an absolute masterpiece and Mamet was the greatest living American playwright. (Sorry, Edward Albee, but I still think it was true.) That was a revival of an off-Broadway show I had first seen several years earlier, which knocked me off my feet. Mamet has said of writing it: I used to spend a lot of time with hustlers and thieves. A play set among them is, like a play set among the super-rich, in politics, or among kings and queens, or in Oz, a device which lets us participate fully. it means, 'once upon a time.' On Wednesday ...
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Huffington Post article
Kim Morgan: Three Favorite Oscar Moments
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
The Academy Awards -- one of cinema's most supreme accolades (or so they tell us). So prestigious that, as many filmmakers and actors claim, it's an "honor" just to be nominated. A gift from your peers, a historic milestone, a career changer, an... oh... where's Sacheen Littlefeather? I like Oscars that go a little crazy. And not in those golly-gee speeches where someone -- say, Anne Hathaway (the inevitable winner Sunday) -- reacts with such feigned shock that she giddily exhibits an actorly, cute-as-a-button manic depressive episode, stuttering out names that reveal how kooky, sweet, humbled and... enough, Ms. Hathaway. You're an actress so I do respect you for using your craft on the podium. I expect it. And I like you, Anne (I really like you!), I do. Actually, come to think of it, I hope you pull a Greer Garson five and a half-minute gusher. That would be entertaining. But that won't happen, so... bring me Joan Crawford! Bring me Joan Crawford in bed, accpeting her gol ...
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Huffington Post article
Bryan Cranston: 'I had to take my character from Mr Chips to Scarface'
Guardian (UK) - over 4 years
Bryan Cranston was a jobbing actor for years… then came the role of a lifetime in Breaking Bad and three successive Emmy wins. Here he tells us how being TV's chemistry teacher/drug baron Walter White changed his life There are some actors' names – Errol Flynn, Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp – which, even if they were not famous, would still evoke images of romance, danger, drama. Then there is Bryan Cranston. It's hard to conceive of a more prosaic appellation. It's almost perfectly anonymous. Authentic but dully inconspicuous, it's a background kind of name. A solid name for a solid character actor. Which is what Cranston was for almost three decades. On film and on television, he was repeatedly to be found in supporting roles, slowly building a reputation as a reliable and flexible performer who was equally adept in comedy and drama. Always in employment, he would crop up in shows such as Baywatch, Murder, She Wrote, LA Law and in minor parts in forgotten films such as Amazon Women o ...
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Guardian (UK) article
Jay Weston: Romantic Madame Butterfly Coming to L.A. Opera
Huffington Post - over 4 years
I admit it, I am an utter romantic. Now, before, forever. I am a sucker for a great love story, either in the movies, the opera, the stage, or in real life. As a filmmaker, I have tried to inject that romantic element in all of the movies that I have produced, so when Billie Holiday met Louis McKay in Lady Sings The Blues, we interjected the scene where a flapper-clad Diana Ross as Billie steps into a dark night club and sees the white-suited Billy Dee Williams looking like a dark Clark Gable... and everyone swooned in the theatres when it played. Even the curmudgeon comic, W.C. Fields (Rod Steiger), softens when he first meets Carlotta Monti (Valerie Perrine), who will become his loving mistress for the rest of his life. We added a scene in Chasen's nightclub where he finally has to admit (to himself as well as to her) that he has fallen in love. When I produced a Broadway play, Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?, starring the then-unknown Al Pacino, I begged the playwright, ...
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Huffington Post article
Jay Weston: Charlie Chaplin's Limelight at the Academy After 60 Years
Huffington Post - over 4 years
Romantic, musical, emotional, a truly great film, and here is the inside story! In 1952 I was drafted into the U.S. Army and went off to fight a violent little-known war in a far-off land called Korea, serving there for two years as a war correspondent and newspaper editor. I came home a more experienced, weary and wary young man. And in 1952 the legendary comic genius, Charlie Chaplin, made a hauntingly beautiful masterpiece of a movie called Limelight, and then he was thrown out of the United States by a bigoted, ignorant and sadistic right-wing political element (the 'Tea Party' of the time), suspected of being "a communist," which he never was. In fact, according to his co-star Norman Lloyd, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, when producer Samuel Goldwyn heard that Chaplin was being called a communist he scoffed and said, "He is the only true capitalist that I know." The L.A. Times noted that Chaplin had incurred the wrath of J. Edgar Hoover, the then head of t ...
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Huffington Post article
'In the Heat of the Night': 25 Things You Didn't Know About the Sidney Poitier Classic
Moviefone Blog - over 4 years
They called it the "Slap Heard 'Round the World." It happened partway through "In the Heat of the Night" -- a movie released at the height of racial tensions during the Civil Rights Era exactly 45 years ago (on August 2, 1967) -- in a scene where a bigoted Southern cotton plantation owner slaps Sidney Poitier (and Poitier slaps back just as hard). Years of deferential behavior, both from Poitier in saintly role-model performances, and from every black actor ever to perform in a Hollywood movie, halted with a mighty thwack. It's one of the most memorable moments in film history and helped earn "In the Heat of the Night" the Best Picture Oscar that year. Even today, the scene remains brutally effective, a reminder of how much has changed in 45 years, and how much has not. The film -- in which a racist Southern sheriff (Rod Steiger) and a haughty black police detective from the Northeast (Poitier) develop a grudging mutual respect as they cooperate to solve a murder in a sultry Mississi ...
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Moviefone Blog article
Was This the Most Dangerous Film in American History?
The New Republic - over 4 years
One of the puzzles facing the film historian (amateur or professional) occurs when a child climbs upon the parental knee and asks, “Well, Dad, what was the black list?” The parent struggles to explain that, once upon a nervous time, the Hollywood movie was said to be rife with un-American suggestions and the energetic insinuation of socialist alternatives. The child blinks, and says, “Father, isn’t that preposterous? Can’t anyone see that the entertainment movie was hysterically dedicated to the American ‘way,’ and given over to the sturdy mythology of courage, honor, manliness, happiness, and having your heart in the right place, where the brain was meant to be?” The father blinks: Is it just his customary paranoia, or could it be that his own child’s articulation hints at some body-snatching invasion? So the father struggles to recall one film—any film—that might have been thrown like acid at the solemn, fearful mindlessness of American society. It’s not easy, but then he is resc ...
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The New Republic article
Sam Weller: Remembering Ray Bradbury
Huffington Post - over 4 years
There, on a gracious green corner lot in West Los Angeles, where the mature palm trees rustle in the night wind and beads of dew gather on the ice plant, you can't miss it. The house. Even in the moonlight, the color, is unmistakable. The big, rambling house, is painted dandelion yellow. The lights are dark now. For the first time in more than a half-century. The Bradbury family moved in on Thanksgiving Day, 1958 and there has always been motion and commotion and activity ever since. A Dixieland jazz band plays on a small balcony on Halloween night. Actor Rod Steiger drives by in a brand new luxury convertible and screams, "Eat your heart out!" Visitors walk up the flagstone steps: actors and film directors and writers and famed animators and friends and loved ones and family and, of course, the four children. Four beloved daughters raised in the home. Four girls who played and schooled and grew there. And when they were young, their father told them bedtime sto ...
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Huffington Post article
Ernest Borgnine dead at 95
LATimes - over 4 years
Ernest Borgnine, the beefy screen star known for blustery, often villainous roles but who won the lead-actor Oscar for playing against type as a lovesick butcher in 1955's “Marty,” died Sunday. He was 95. His longtime spokesman, Harry Flynn, told the Associated Press that Borgnine died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with his family by his side. Television fans loved Borgnine as the scheming Navy officer in the sitcom “McHale's Navy.” Borgnine was also known as the heavy who beats up Frank Sinatra in “From Here to Eternity,” and one of the thugs who menaces Spencer Tracy in “Bad Day at Block Rock.” Then came “Marty,” a low-budget film based on a Paddy Chayefsky television play that starred Rod Steiger. Borgnine played a 34-year-old who fears he is so unattractive he will never find romance. Then, at a dance, he meets a girl with the same fear. “Sooner or later, there comes a point in a man's life when he's gotta face some facts,” Marty movingly tells his mother at one point in ...
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LATimes article
Major Nidal Hasan’s Beard
FrontPageMag.com - over 4 years
This week military judge Gregory Gross barred Major Nidal Malik Hasan from appearing in court because he has refused to shave a beard he reportedly grew as a badge of his deep Islamic faith. The beard, judge Gross said, was a violation of Army policy. As it happens, so were Hasan’s actions in November of 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas. As one of the early press accounts noted, Major Hassan packed a revolver and an FN Herstal pistol, and stuffed the cargo pockets of his camouflage pants full of 20-round ammunition clips. Then he opened fire on U.S. Army soldiers while shouting “Allahu akbar,” or “Allah is great.” In a matter of minutes Hassan, a U.S. Army psychiatrist trained to help soldiers deal with the horrors of war, had killed thirteen and wounded thirty. He was methodical, aiming carefully at those seeking cover. Kimberly Munley, a police officer married to a Fort Hood soldier, saw Major Hasan chasing a wounded soldier across a courtyard and opened fire on Hasan. He returned fire a ...
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FrontPageMag.com article
Ray Bradbury was a huge influence on the film world too
LATimes - over 4 years
The death of Ray Bradbury Tuesday night at the age of 91 throws into relief not only his literary legacy but his abundant influence on the movie world. Starting with the Jack Arnold-directed "It Came From Outer Space," about the crash-landing of a mysterious craft in the Arizona desert, in 1953, Bradbury's work has formed the basis of numerous films. Rod Steiger starred in a 1969 adaptation of his futuristic short-story collection "The Illustrated Man." In 1983, Jason Robards took on Bradbury's horror novel, "Something Wicked This Way Comes," about a pair of teenage boys who experience nightmares when a carnival comes to town. PHOTOS: Ray Bradbury | 1920 - 2012 And in perhaps the most notable big-screen spin on Bradbury's work, French New Wave pioneer Francois Truffaut helmed a version of Bradbury's dystopian book-burning classic "Fahrenheit 451" in 1966. Bradbury's stories and novels also yielded many television adaptations, with the author also writing and creating the ca ...
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LATimes article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Rod Steiger
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2002
    Age 76
    He died of pneumonia and complications from surgery for a gall bladder tumor on July 9, 2002, aged 77, in Los Angeles, and was survived by his fifth wife Joan Benedict Steiger.
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    Steiger died of pneumonia and complications from surgery for a gall bladder tumor on July 9, 2002, in Los Angeles, and was buried in Forest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery.
    More Details Hide Details The film Saving Shiloh, released in 2006, was dedicated to his memory. Steiger was one of Hollywood's most respected character actors; Hutchinson described him as "one of Hollywood's most charismatic and dynamic stars". Yet for Hutchinson, Steiger remained "out of sympathy with Hollywood" during his career, believing that accomplished actors often struggle to find challenging films as they got older. Steiger was an "effusive talent" according to Lucia Bozzola of The New York Times, and was particularly noted for his intense portrayal of offbeat, often volatile and crazed characters. After On the Waterfront (1954), Steiger became somewhat typecast for playing tough characters and villains, and grew increasingly frustrated playing the "Mafia heavy or a near-psychopath" during the 1970s, roles which he could play menacingly, but provided little opportunity for him to showcase his talent. Gossip columnist Louella Parsons hailed him as "the Screen's No.1 Bad Man", while the newspaper London Evening News referred to him as "the man you would love to hate if you had the coverage". A 1960 publication by Dean Jennings of The Saturday Evening Post referred to Steiger as an "angry, hot-tempered newcomer of prodigious acting talents, who works best only at emotional white heat", and remarked that he found it "stimulating to carry theatrical fantasy into his private life". Pauline Kael found his performances so powerful that she believed he "often seems to take over a picture even when he isn't in the lead".
  • 1999
    Age 73
    Steiger played judges in Antonio Banderas's comedy-drama Crazy in Alabama and in the prison drama, The Hurricane, both in 1999, the latter of which tells the story of former middleweight boxer Rubin Carter, who was wrongly convicted of a triple homicide in a bar in Paterson, New Jersey.
    More Details Hide Details The Hurricane reunited Steiger with Norman Jewison, who had directed him in In the Heat of the Night. Steiger portrayed H. Lee Sarokin, the judge responsible for freeing Carter. Sarokin thought it was a "marvellous film" that was Oscar-worthy, but found Steiger's portrayal as overacted and a "little arrogant and pompous". After a minor role as a "bombastic priest" in End of Days (1999), Steiger was one of the lead actors in Burt Reynolds's The Last Producer (2000), a film about a washed-up, veteran producer (Reynolds) who tries to re-enter the movie business by producing a new film. Steiger's last film role was as the billiard hall manager, Nick, in Poolhall Junkies (2002); it was poorly received by critics.
    Steiger also responded unfavorably when he learned that Kazan had been awarded an honorary Oscar by the Academy in 1999.
    More Details Hide Details In a 1999 interview with BBC News, Steiger said he probably would not have done On the Waterfront if he had known at the time that Kazan provided the House Un-American Activities Committee with names of performers suspected of being Communists.
  • 1998
    Age 72
    It has since been acclaimed as one of the greatest films ever made, and in 1998 was selected as the 39th best American film in the original AFI's 100 Years 100 Movies list by the American Film Institute.
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  • 1997
    Age 71
    In 1997, Steiger played Tony Vago, the mob boss of Vincent Gallo's character in Kiefer Sutherland's Truth or Consequences, N.M., a gritty noir about a drug heist gone wrong.
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  • 1996
    Age 70
    Also in 1996, Steiger played a "jingoistic top general" who "petitions the president to go nuclear in the middle of a global crisis" in the ensemble production of Mars Attacks!
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  • 1993
    Age 67
    In 1993, Steiger portrayed an aging gynaecologist who terrorizes his urban neighbors in a rural community in Burlington, Vermont in The Neighbor.
    More Details Hide Details Dennis Schwartz considered it to have been one of Steiger's creepiest roles, though he thought that the poor script had rendered the role awkward and "mildly entertaining in the sense that Steiger is asked to carry the film and hams it up". The following year, Steiger agreed to play a Cuban mob boss opposite Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone in Luis Llosa's thriller The Specialist, citing its purpose as a "$40 million commercial" to show a new generation that he existed. Critics panned the film, which has a four percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 27 reviews as of July 2015. The role earned Steiger a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor nomination, and the film was listed in The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of "The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made". Following The Specialist (1994), Steiger appeared in Tom Clancy's Op Center (1995), a film that was edited down into a TV miniseries, and featured in a Columbo television film, Strange Bedfellows. The following year, he took a minor role as Doc Wallace in the Dale Rosenbloom family drama Shiloh. He reprised the role three years later in the sequel.
  • 1990
    Age 64
    In 1990, Steiger starred in Men of Respect, a crime drama film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Macbeth.
    More Details Hide Details He played a character based on King Duncan, opposite John Turturro as Mike Battaglia (Macbeth), who plays a Mafia hitman who climbs his way to the top by killing Steiger's character. The film was critically panned, with Roger Ebert awarding it one star out of four, describing the concept as a "very, very bad idea". Steiger played another mobster, Sam Giancana, two years later in the miniseries Sinatra (1992). Steiger portrayed a reverend living in a small town in the American South in the macabre Merchant Ivory film production The Ballad of the Sad Café (1991), co-starring Vanessa Redgrave and Keith Carradine. The film met with generally lukewarm reviews, though it was entered into the 41st Berlin International Film Festival. Steiger auditioned for the part of an elderly Irishman in Ron Howard's Far and Away, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Steiger, who had long been bald, was ordered by Howard to wear a wig to the audition. He resented the fact that Howard insisted on taping the audition, which he believed to be a form of humiliation for actors, serving as after-dinner entertainment for the Hollywood executives. Steiger never forgave Howard, whom he referred to as a "cocksucker", for rejecting him for the part and giving it to Cyril Cusack.
  • 1988
    Age 62
    In 1988, Steiger and Yvonne De Carlo played a spooky elderly couple with developmentally delayed children in John Hough's horror film American Gothic.
    More Details Hide Details Universally panned by the critics, Caryn James of The New York Times wrote: "Mr. Steiger addresses the camera as if he were reciting Shakespeare, he is truly, straightforwardly, hilariously bad." During the last year of the decade he played authority figures, including a mayor in The January Man, and as Judge Prescott in Tennessee Waltz. Although Steiger admitted that his performance in The January Man was "way over the top", he enjoyed the experience, thereby marking a positive turning point after a period of clinical depression.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1985
    Age 59
    Steiger also performed on Joni Mitchell's 1985 album Dog Eat Dog, where he provided the voice of an evangelist in the song "Tax Free".
    More Details Hide Details Steiger appeared in the Argentine-American film Catch the Heat (1987), a martial arts picture about a Brazilian drug baroness who smuggles drugs into the United States inside her breast implants. According to director Fred Olen Ray, it was pulled from distribution within a week of release.
  • 1984
    Age 58
    In 1984, Steiger starred as a detective assigned to investigate the murder of a Chicago psychoanalyst (Roger Moore), a man whom he detests from a previous case, in Bryan Forbes's The Naked Face.
    More Details Hide Details Richard Christiansen of the Chicago Tribune referred to it as a "wimpy suspense movie shot in Chicago in the fall of 1983, that doesn't do much good for the city or for anyone connected with it", and considered Steiger to be "acting in his high hysteria gear", who "snarls and whines and overacts". Steiger took a break from cinema in the mid-1980s, during which he appeared in the Yorkshire Television mini-series The Glory Boys (1984) with Anthony Perkins, and Hollywood Wives (1985) with Angie Dickinson. Steiger and Perkins were at loggerheads during the production of The Glory Boys. Perkins resented the fact that Steiger insisted on a bigger trailer and felt that Steiger was trying to steal scenes from him, while Steiger had thought Perkins "so jittery and jinxed by the chemicals he was taking" that he felt sorry for him and believed that he was jeopardizing the success of the film.
  • 1981
    Age 55
    Later in 1981, Steiger won the Montréal World Film Festival Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of white-bearded Orthodox rabbi Reb Saunders in Jeremy Kagan's The Chosen.
    More Details Hide Details Janet Maslin commented that Steiger's "slow, rolling delivery" was more "numbing than prepossessing", though a critic from Variety thought it an "exceptional performance as the somewhat tyrannical but loving patriarch". After his open-heart surgery in 1979, clinical depression and health problems during the 1980s directly affected Steiger's career, and he often turned to B-movies, low-budget, independent productions and TV miniseries. He admitted that during this period he accepted "everything I was offered", and knew that many of the films he appeared in were not great, but wanted to demonstrate his strong work ethic despite his issues. He later regretted the poorer films in which he appeared during the 1980s, and wished he had done more stage work. He sank into an even deeper depression when he was not involved in acting, but it bothered him more that his acting career had taken a turn for the worse and was no longer challenging. The major studio producers were wary of his problems and considered him a liability. Steiger spoke about the experience to a younger colleague while advising: "Never tell anyone if you've got heart problems, kid. Never." His reputation as a fine character actor remained intact, and Joel Hirschhorn at the time considered his talent to be "as strong as ever".
  • 1980
    Age 54
    In 1980, Steiger received two Genie Award for Best Performance by a Foreign Actor nominations for his roles in Klondike Fever and The Lucky Star, both Canadian productions.
    More Details Hide Details Klondike Fever is based on Jack London's journey from San Francisco to the Klondike gold fields in 1898. Steiger revisited his role as Mussolini in Lion of the Desert, a production that was financed by Muammar Gaddafi, and which co-starred Anthony Quinn as Bedouin tribal leader Omar Mukhtar, fighting the Italian army in the years leading up to World War II. The Italian authorities reportedly banned the film in 1982, as it was considered damaging to the army, and it was not shown on Italian television until a state visit by Gaddafi in 2009. It received critical acclaim in Britain, where it was praised in particular for the quality of its battle scenes.
  • 1979
    Age 53
    After the decline of his third marriage in 1979, a deep depression, partly a side effect of his surgery, during the 1980s negatively affected his career.
    More Details Hide Details He became increasingly reclusive during this period, often confining himself to his apartment, watching American football for several hours. He said of the experience: "You begin to lose self-esteem. You don't walk, you don't shave and if no one was watching you'd go to the bathroom right where you were sitting". He would lie in bed at night thinking "You'll never act again. Why bother? You're no good". Despite these challenges, Steiger continued to act into the 1990s and early 2000s. In one of his final interviews, he stated that there was a stigma wrongfully attached to sufferers of depression and that it was caused by a chemical imbalance, not a mental disease. He commented: "Pain must never be a source of shame. It's a part of life, it's part of humanity."
  • 1978
    Age 52
    In 1978, Steiger played a senator in Norman Jewison's F.I.S.T., opposite Sylvester Stallone, who played a Cleveland warehouse worker involved in the labor union leadership of the fictional organisation named Federation of Inter-State Truckers.
    More Details Hide Details Love and Bullets, later that year, in which Steiger appeared as a mafia boss, was poorly received; Roger Ebert dismissed it as a "hopelessly confused hodgepodge of chases, killings, enigmatic meetings and separations, and insufferably overacted scenes by Steiger alternating with alarmingly underacted scenes by Charles Bronson". The following year, Steiger was cast as a general opposite Richard Burton and Robert Mitchum in Andrew V. McLaglen's war film Breakthrough, set on the Western Front. In The Amityville Horror (1979), Steiger appeared as a disturbed priest, who is invited to perform an exorcism on a haunted house. Again Steiger was accused of overacting; Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote: "Mr. Steiger bellows and weeps and overdoes absolutely everything. He won't even pick up the phone before it's rung 12 or 15 times." Pauline Kael thought that Steiger's "spiritual agony was enough to shatter the camera lens".
  • FORTIES
  • 1975
    Age 49
    In 1975, Steiger portrayed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in Carlo Lizzani's Last Days of Mussolini, which received a positive critical reception.
    More Details Hide Details He appeared in Claude Chabrol's French picture Innocents with Dirty Hands, playing the role of Louis Wormser, the wealthy alcoholic husband of Romy Schneider's character Julie Wormser. It was poorly received by critics, and Steiger found the director, whom he had admired, a bitter disappointment. He was highly critical of Chabrol's lack of communication and aloofness from the production, and preference for playing chess on set instead of talking through scenes. Vincent Canby of The New York Times dismissed it as "little more than a soap opera", writing: "The performances are of a piece—uniformly atrocious. Mr. Steiger surpasses his own earlier records for lumbering busyness. Within his first few minutes on screen he (1) gets drunk, (2) whines, (3) pleads for understanding, (4) weeps and (5) goes to bed alone." Later that year, Steiger starred as an Irish Republican Army terrorist who plans to blow up the Houses of Parliament in Don Sharp's British thriller Hennessy. John Simon of New York Magazine wrote: "This fellow Hennessy, as played by Rod Steiger, is about as interesting and likable as a Guy Fawkes dummy." The following year, Steiger portrayed the comic actor W. C. Fields in an Arthur Hiller biopic, W. C. Fields and Me, for Universal Pictures. The screenplay, which was based on a memoir by Carlotta Monti, who was Fields' mistress for the last 14 years of his life, was penned by Bob Merrill.
  • 1971
    Age 45
    In 1971, Steiger played a chauvinistic big game hunter, explorer and war hero opposite Susannah York in Mark Robson's Happy Birthday, Wanda June, before agreeing to star alongside James Coburn as Mexican bandit Juan Miranda in Sergio Leone's Duck, You Sucker!, which was alternatively titled A Fistful of Dynamite.
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  • 1969
    Age 43
    It upset him greatly when his marriage with Bloom ended in 1969 and that she quickly remarried Broadway producer Hillard Elkins the same year, a man whom Steiger had entrusted to care for her while he was away shooting Waterloo.
    More Details Hide Details Steiger was also close friends with actress Elizabeth Taylor. Steiger was outspoken on McCarthyism. He was particularly critical of Charlton Heston's stance on weapons, and publicly referred to him as "America's favorite fascist". In one clash in a column in the Los Angeles Times, Steiger responded to a letter sent by Heston saying that he was shocked that the American Film Institute had not honored Elia Kazan because of his testimony to the Un-American Activities Committee. Steiger wrote that he was "appalled, appalled, appalled" at actors and writers who had been forced to drive cabs because they were blacklisted and had even committed suicide as a result. Heston did not reply. Steiger suffered from depression throughout much of his life. He described himself as "incapacitated for about eight years with clinical depression" before his Oscar win for In The Heat of the Night. His career problems from the 1970s onwards were often exacerbated by health issues. He underwent open-heart surgery in 1976 and 1979 and struggled with obesity, though certain roles, such as Napoleon, required him to intentionally gain weight.
    Steiger auditioned for the role of Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972), a film adaptation of Italian American author Mario Puzo's 1969 novel of the same name, but Puzo felt that Steiger was too old for the part and rejected him.
    More Details Hide Details Steiger played a rural Tennessee patriarch and brother of Jeff Bridges, at odds with Robert Ryan's character, in Lolly-Madonna XXX (1973), which received mixed reviews. Later that year he was cast as the turban-wearing German officer Guenther von Lutz in Duccio Tessari's Italian war comedy The Heroes, opposite Rod Taylor, and appeared as "foul-mouthed Sicilian mobster" Eugenio Giannini opposite Gian Maria Volontè's Lucky Luciano in Francesco Rosi's film of the same name.
    It was entered into the Berlin International Film Festival and became the 19th most popular film at the UK box office in 1969.
    More Details Hide Details Steiger was offered the title role in Patton (1970), but turned it down because he did not want to glorify war. The role was then given to George C. Scott, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance. Steiger called this refusal his "dumbest career move", remarking, "I got on my high horse. I thought I was a pacifist." Instead, he chose to portray Napoleon Bonaparte opposite Christopher Plummer in Sergei Bondarchuk's Waterloo (1970), a co-production between the Soviet Union and Italy. One commentator wrote: "I watched with extraordinary respect, no, that is not the right word, with enthusiasm, the acting of Rod Steiger in the role of Napoleon in Waterloo," while literary critic Daniel S. Burt describes Steiger's Napoleon as an "unusual interpretation", finding him less convincing than Plummer's Wellington.
  • 1968
    Age 42
    Later in 1968, Steiger played a repressed gay non-commissioned officer opposite John Phillip Law in John Flynn's The Sergeant for Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, which earned him the David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actor.
    More Details Hide Details Despite the award win, film critic Pauline Kael of The New Yorker was particularly critical of the casting of Steiger as a homosexual and felt that he was "totally outside his range", to which Steiger concurred that he was ineffective. Steiger was cast as a short-tempered tattooed man with soon-to-be ex-wife Claire Bloom in the science fiction picture The Illustrated Man (1969). The film was a critical and commercial failure, and Ray Bradbury, who wrote the screenplay, said: "Rod was very good in it, but it wasn't a good film the script was terrible". Steiger had better luck alongside Bloom later that year in Peter Hall's British drama Three into Two Won't Go, playing an Irishman who cheats on his wife with a young hiker.
    In 1968, Steiger played a deranged serial killer opposite George Segal in Jack Smight's black comedy thriller No Way to Treat a Lady.
    More Details Hide Details During the course of the film, he adopts various disguises, including those of a priest, a policeman, a plumber, and a hairdresser, to avoid being identified, and to put his victims at ease, before strangling them and painting a pair of lips on their foreheads with garish red lipstick. The film and Steiger's performance were critically acclaimed, with Vincent Canby of The New York Times highlighting Steiger's "beautifully uninhibited performance as a hammy", and a writer for Time Out describing him as "brilliant as a sort of Boston strangler, son of a great actress who has left her boy with a mother fixation".
  • 1967
    Age 41
    Steiger had intended returning to the stage, and had signed on to play the title character in Bertolt Brecht's Galileo, at the Lincoln Center Repertory Company in April 1967, but the production was cancelled when he became ill.
    More Details Hide Details Steiger won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Chief of Police Bill Gillespie in In the Heat of the Night, opposite Sidney Poitier. He played a Southern police chief searching for a murderer. Prejudiced against blacks, he jumps to the conclusion that the culprit is Virgil Tibbs (Poitier), an African-American man passing through town after visiting his mother, who later turns out to be an experienced homicide detective from Philadelphia. The film deals with the way the two men interact and join forces in solving the crime, as Steiger's Gillespie learns to greatly respect the black man he initially took to be a criminal. Steiger drew upon his experience in the Navy with a Southerner named "King", remembering his accent. Poitier considered Steiger and Spencer Tracy to have been the finest actors he had ever worked with, remarking in 1995, "He's so good he made me dig into bags I never knew I had." A. D. Murphy of Variety described Steiger's performance as "outstanding", writing: "Steiger's transformation from a diehard Dixie bigot to a man who learns to respect Poitier stands out in smooth comparison to the wandering solution of the murder." Steiger won a plethora of other awards, including a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, a Laurel Award and awards for Best Actor from the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1965
    Age 39
    In 1965, Steiger played an effeminate embalmer in Tony Richardson's comedy The Loved One, about the funeral business in Los Angeles, based on the 1948 short satirical novel by Evelyn Waugh.
    More Details Hide Details His curly-haired appearance in the film was modeled on a bust of Apollo he once saw while meeting Richardson. Steiger offended Bosley Crowther of The New York Times, who found his character repellent. His next role, as Komarovsky, a Russian politician and "villainous opportunist" who rapes Julie Christie's character in David Lean's Doctor Zhivago (1965), was one of his favorites. Steiger, one of only two Americans in the cast, was initially apprehensive about working with such great British actors as Ralph Richardson and Alec Guinness, and was pleased when the film was completed that he did not stand out as an American. The film was the biggest international box office draw of the 1960s, grossing $200 million worldwide.
  • 1962
    Age 36
    In 1962, Steiger appeared on Broadway in Moby Dick—Rehearsed, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, as well as playing a detective searching for a scientist's (Alan Ladd's) mugger in Philip Leacock's 13 West Street for Columbia Pictures.
    More Details Hide Details Steiger played the role of a destroyer commander in the large ensemble cast of The Longest Day, which included John Wayne, Richard Todd, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, Sean Connery and Henry Fonda. According to co-star Richard Burton, Steiger had admitted to him that he was in financial trouble at the time and had had a face lift, which Burton thought made him look like "one half of a naked ass-hole". The following year, Steiger played ruthless Neapolitan land developer and city councilman Edoardo Nottola, who uses his political power to make personal profit in a large scale suburban real estate deal, in Francesco Rosi's Italian production, Hands over the City (1963). According to biographer Francesco Bolzoni, Rosi had cast Steiger in the Italian language film because he had wanted "a rich interpreter of great capacity" in the part of the land developer.
  • 1957
    Age 31
    Steiger apperared in three films released in 1957.
    More Details Hide Details The first was John Farrow's film noir The Unholy Wife, in which he played a wealthy Napa Valley vintner who marries a femme fatale named Phyllis (Diana Dors).
  • 1956
    Age 30
    Upon its release in April 1956, a writer for Variety was impressed with the "evil venom" displayed by his character, and remarked that there had not "been as hateful a screen heavy around in a long time".
    More Details Hide Details In Mark Robson's The Harder They Fall, Steiger played a crooked boxing promoter who hires a sports journalist (Humphrey Bogart in his last role). Steiger referred to Bogart as "a professional" who had "tremendous authority" during filming.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1955
    Age 29
    Later in 1955, Steiger played an obnoxious film tycoon, loosely based on Columbia boss Harry Cohn, opposite Jack Palance and Ida Lupino in Robert Aldrich's film noir The Big Knife.
    More Details Hide Details Steiger bleached his hair for the part, sought inspiration for the role from Russian actor Vladimir Sokoloff, read a book about the Treblinka extermination camp to understand his character thoroughly, and visited the perfume department of a store in Beverly Hills, California, to try to understand his character's contempt for women. Steiger and Palance did not get along during the production, and in one scene Palance threw several record albums at Steiger in frustration, feeling that he was trying to steal the scene. Steiger earned critical acclaim later that year for a role as a prosecuting major in Otto Preminger's The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell, alongside Gary Cooper and Charles Bickford. Steiger portrayed the character "Pinky" in Columbia Pictures' western, Jubal (1956), which co-starred Glenn Ford and Ernest Borgnine. Steiger's character is a rancher, a "sneering baddie", who becomes jealous when his former mistress becomes attracted to Ford's character.. Ford noted Steiger's deep commitment to method acting during production, considering him to be a "fine actor but a real strange fellow". Steiger disliked the experience and frequently clashed with director Delmer Daves, who was more favorable to Ford's lighthearted take on the film.
  • 1953
    Age 27
    As Steiger refused to sign a seven-year studio contract, he was replaced with Ernest Borgnine in the film Marty (1955), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, as well as the Best Actor Oscar for Borgnine. 1953 proved to be Steiger's breakthrough year; he garnered Sylvania Awards for Marty and four other best performances of the year—as Vishinsky and Rudolph Hess in two episodes of You Are There, as gangster Dutch Schultz in a thriller, and as a radar operator in My Brother's Keeper.
    More Details Hide Details For his role as Charley "the Gent", the brother of Marlon Brando's character in Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront (1954), Steiger was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Film writer Leo Braudy wrote that the "incessantly repeated images of its taxicab confrontation between Brando and Rod Steiger have made the film iconic". The taxicab scene took eleven hours to shoot and was heavily scripted, despite Brando fuelling the popular myth in his autobiography that the scene was improvised. Brando stated that seven takes were needed because Steiger could not stop crying, which Steiger found to be unfair and inaccurate. Though Steiger retained great respect for Brando as an actor, he disliked him as a person and frequently complained during the production of Brando's "predilection for leaving the set" immediately after shooting his scenes. Steiger later remarked: "We didn't get to know each other at all. He always flew solo and I haven't seen him since the film. I do resent him saying he's just a hooker, and that actors are whores".
    On May 24, 1953, Steiger played the title role in Paddy Chayefsky's "Marty" episode of the Goodyear Television Playhouse.
    More Details Hide Details The role had originally been intended for Martin Ritt, who later became a director. "Marty" is the story of a lonely and homely butcher from the Bronx in search of love. The play was a critical success that increased Steiger's public exposure; Tom Stempel noted that he brought "striking intensity to his performance as Marty, particularly in giving us Marty's pain".
    Steiger made his big screen debut in 1953, with a small role in Fred Zinnemann's Teresa, shot in 1951.
    More Details Hide Details Steiger, who described himself as "cocky", won over Zinnemann by praising his direction. Zinnemann recalled that Steiger was "very popular, extremely articulate and full of remarkable memories", and the two remained highly respectful of each other for life.
  • 1952
    Age 26
    The following year, he played a telegraphist in the play Seagulls Over Sorrento, performed at the John Golden Theatre beginning on September 11, 1952.
    More Details Hide Details Steiger's early roles, although minor, were numerous, especially in television series during the early 1950s, when he appeared in more than 250 live television productions over a five-year period. He was spotted by Fred Coe, NBC's manager of program development, who increasingly gave him bigger parts. Steiger considered television to be what repertory theatre had been for an earlier generation, and saw it as a place where he could test his talent with a plethora of different roles. Soon afterward he began receiving positive reviews from critics such as John Crosby, who noted that Steiger regularly gave "effortless persuasive performances". Among Steiger's credits were Danger (1950–53), Lux Video Theatre (1951), Out There (1951), Tales of Tomorrow (1952–53), The Gulf Playhouse (1953), Medallion Theatre (1953), Goodyear Television Playhouse (1953), and as Shakespeare's Romeo in "The First Command Performance of Romeo and Juliet (1957)" episode of You Are There in 1954, under director Sidney Lumet. He continued to make appearances in various playhouse television productions, appearing in five episodes of Kraft Theatre (1952–54), which earned him praise from critics, six episodes of The Philco Television Playhouse (1951–55) and two episodes of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars (1957–58).
  • 1951
    Age 25
    Steiger made his film debut in Fred Zinnemann's Teresa in 1951, and subsequently appeared in films such as The Big Knife (1955), Oklahoma! (1955), Across the Bridge (1957) and Al Capone (1959).
    More Details Hide Details After Steiger's performance in The Pawnbroker in 1964, in which he played an embittered Jewish Holocaust survivor working as a pawnbroker in New York City, he portrayed an opportunistic Russian politician in David Lean's Doctor Zhivago (1965). In the Heat of the Night (1967) won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Steiger, who was lauded for his performance as a Mississippi police chief who learns to respect an African-American officer (Poitier) as they search for a killer. The following year, he played a serial killer of many guises in No Way to Treat a Lady. During the 1970s, Steiger increasingly turned to European productions in his search for more demanding roles. He portrayed Napoleon Bonaparte in Waterloo (1970), a Mexican bandit in Sergio Leone's Duck, You Sucker! (1971), Benito Mussolini in Last Days of Mussolini (1975), and ended the decade playing a disturbed priest in The Amityville Horror (1979). By the 1980s, heart problems and depression took its toll on Steiger's career, and he found it difficult to find employment, agreeing to appear in low-budget B movies. One of his final roles was as judge H. Lee Sarokin in the prison drama The Hurricane (1999), which reunited him with In the Heat of the Night director Norman Jewison. Steiger was married five times, and had a daughter, opera singer Anna Steiger, and a son, Michael Steiger.
  • 1950
    Age 24
    The following year, Steiger appeared with Claire Bloom (whom he later married) in a Fay and Michael Kanin stage production of Akira Kurosawa's 1950 film, Rashomon, where he enacted the role of the bandit originally played by Toshiro Mifune.
    More Details Hide Details A major success, it was lauded by critics and nominated for three Tony awards. Robert Coleman of the Daily Mirror described Steiger's performance as "magnificently animalish", while Kenneth Tynan of The New Yorker thought the acting helped set new standards for Broadway. The same year, Steiger portrayed iconic mobster Al Capone in the film of the same name. Steiger was particularly keen on demonstrating the showiness of Capone, speaking thunderously, slinging a camel-hair coat over his shoulders and wearing his hat at a jaunty angle. The film, noted for its deglamorized portrayal of the subject, earned Steiger a Laurel Award for Best Male Dramatic Performance nomination. Though Hutchinson, author of Rod Steiger: Memoirs of a friendship, perceived Steiger's portrayal of Capone to be more of a caricature, George Anastasia and Glen Macnow, authors of the book The Ultimate Book of Gangster Movies, described it as one of the best screen portrayals of Capone.
    Steiger's stage work continued in 1950, with a minor role as a townperson in a stage production of An Enemy of the People at the Music Box Theatre.
    More Details Hide Details His first major role on Broadway came in Clifford Odets's production of Night Music (1951), where he played A. L. Rosenberger. The play was held at the ANTA Playhouse.
  • 1947
    Age 21
    Subsequent to this, he received an invitation from one of his teachers, Daniel Mann, to attend the Actors Studio, established by Elia Kazan in October 1947.
    More Details Hide Details It was here, along with Marlon Brando, Karl Malden and Eli Wallach, that he studied method acting, which became deeply engrained in him. Lacking matinée idol looks, much like Malden and Wallach, he began pursuing a career as a character actor rather than as a leading man.
  • 1946
    Age 20
    He made his stage debut in 1946, in a production of Curse you, Jack Dalton! at the Civic Repertory Theatre of Newark, and subsequently appeared in productions such as An Enemy of the People (1950), Clifford Odets's Night Music (1951), Seagulls Over Sorrento (1952) and Rashomon (1959).
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  • TEENAGE
  • 1944
    Age 18
    On December 17, 1944, Steiger and the Taussig encountered a severe typhoon, which became known as Halsey's Typhoon, that created winds reaching one hundred knots (115 mph) and waves off the coast of Luzon in the Philippines.
    More Details Hide Details As a result, three U.S. destroyers were lost, but the Taussig survived, with Steiger tying a rope to himself on deck and flattening himself as waves engulfed the ship. After the war, the GI Bill of Rights paid for his rent at a room on West 81st Street in New York City, an income of just over $100 a month, and four years of schooling. He initially found a job oiling machines and washing floors. He decided to attend a drama class, primarily because of its membership of attractive young women. Known as the Civil Service Little Theater group, it was conducted by the Office of Dependants and Beneficiaries, where he was employed at the time. This led him to start a two-year course at the New School for Social Research, run by German émigré Erwin Piscator. During one audition, Steiger was cast after barely uttering a few words, the director exclaiming he had a "fresh, wonderful quality". Another talented pupil at the time was Walter Matthau, who dubbed the institution "The Neurotic School for Sexual Research". Steiger was surprised to discover his own talent as an actor, and he was encouraged to pursue further studies at the Dramatic Workshop. One of the main reasons he wanted to be an actor was to regain public respect for his family name, which had so humiliated him during childhood. Another important factor was his belief that he did not "have the temperament for a regular job", and would have ended up a miserable, violent alcoholic.
    He joined the newly commissioned USS Taussig (DD-746) on May 20, 1944.
    More Details Hide Details While serving as a torpedoman on destroyers, he saw action in the South Pacific, including the Battle of Iwo Jima. Steiger later commented: "I loved the Navy. I was stupid enough to think I was being heroic". His experiences during the war haunted him for the rest of his life, particularly the loss of Americans during the Battle of Iwo Jima, as well as the sinking of vessels by the Taussig which were known to have women and children aboard.
  • 1942
    Age 16
    He enlisted on May 11, 1942, and received his training at the U.S. Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island.
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1925
    Born
    Steiger was born on April 14, 1925 in Westhampton, New York, the only child of Lorraine (née Driver) and Frederick Steiger, of French, Scottish and German descent.
    More Details Hide Details Rod was raised as a Lutheran. He never knew his father, a vaudevillian who had been part of a traveling song-and-dance team with Steiger's mother, but was told that he was a handsome Latino-looking man, who was a talented musician and dancer. Biographer Tom Hutchinson describes him as a "shadowy, fugitive figure", one who "haunted" Rod throughout his life and was an "invisible presence and unseen influence". Hutchinson described Steiger's mother as "plump, energetic and small, with long auburn hair". She had a good singing voice and nearly became a Hollywood actress, but after a leg surgery permanently impaired her walking ability, she gave up acting and turned to alcohol. As a result, she quit show business and moved away from Westhampton to raise her son. They moved through several towns, including Irvington and Bloomfield, before settling in Newark, New Jersey. Her alcoholism caused Steiger much embarrassment, and the family was frequently mocked by other children and their parents within the community. At the age of five he was sexually abused by a pedophile who lured him in with a butterfly collection. Steiger said of his troubled family background: "If you had the choice of having the childhood you experienced, with your alcoholic mother and being the famous actor you are today, or having a loving, secure childhood and not being famous, which would you take? A loving, secure childhood in a New York minute".
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