The Newark, New Jersey native (born Allen Goorwitz) began his career as a copyboy and sports reporter for the Newark (N.J.) Star Ledger while also becoming an undefeated Golden Gloves boxer representing Temple B'nai Abraham.
His passion for the fight game and for his favorite film, Robert Rossen's 1947 classic, Body & Soul (penned by blacklisted screenwriter Abraham Polonsky), prompted the aspiring actor to adopt his stage name of Allen Garfield upon his acting debut in 1965 in tribute to his idol, star John Garfield, who portrayed the Depression-era boxer in Rossen's film.
Garfield burst upon the New York film scene in the late '60s with two hilarious, improvisational performances opposite another emerging acting talent, Robert De Niro, in Brian De Palma's Greetings and Hi, Mom! He followed by reuniting with De Palma in their first Hollywood film together, Get to Know Your Rabbit (which also featured cinema legend Orson Welles). Garfield also starred in John G. Avildsen's, Cry Uncle!, Jack and His Friends, Rich Boys, Sketches of A Strangler and Skateboard.
Francis Coppola has directed Garfield in three projects - One from the Heart, The Cotton Club and the 1974 Cannes Film Festival winner, The Conversation. Garfield has also worked with Wim Wenders in Until the End of the World and The State of Things, for which Los Angeles Times film critic Sheila Benson hailed his performance as the fugitive film producer as Oscar-worthy. The actor's other memorable film roles include Robert Redford's The Candidate; Robert Altman's Nashville; The Stunt Man; Beverly Hills Cop II; and Roman Polanski's thriller, The Ninth Gate.
Equally prolific on the small screen, Garfield has starred on such series and pilots as Chicago Hope, Showtime's The Boys, ABC's Never Again and Showroom, CBS' Palace Guard and Sonny Boy, written-and-directed by Rob Reiner. In three celebrated HBO movies, he starred in Mark Rydell's Crime of the Century; Frank Pierson's Citizen Cohn; and John Flynn's Absence of the Good. He also co-starred in Stanley Kramer's television production of Judgment: The Trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.
Garfield made his professional stage debut opposite Julie Harris in A Streetcar Named Desire before making his Broadway bow in the Donald Freed drama, Inquest. He also starred off-Broadway in Terrence McNally's dark comedy, Witness and authored the stage play, Four in the Family, Five If You Include the Dog, which he also directed in hit productions in both New York and Los Angeles.
His award-winning performances on the Los Angeles stage include Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge; Tom Topor's Nuts; Albert Innurato's The Transfiguration of Benno Blimpie; Pokerfaces and Castanets; and blacklisted actor Lionel Stander in Eric Bentley's docudrama on the H.U.A.C., Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been... Coincidentally, he would work alongside Stander years later in the Showtime series, Boys.
Allen Garfield Facts
|November 22, 1939 (84)
|Newark, New Jersey, USA