Name at birth: Emmanuel Goldenberg
Edward G. Robinson is a 20th century Hollywood screen legend, known best for his portrayal of gangster Rico Bandello, the prototypical Depression-era crime lord depicted in the film Little Caesar (1931). Robinson was a Romanian immigrant living in New York's East Side when he turned to acting around 1913. Between 1915 and 1930 he carved out a respectable career on the New York stage while dabbling in the world of motion pictures. After the success of Little Caesar, Robinson joined James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart in Warner Brothers' crop of gangster movies in the 1930s and '40s, and his place in cinema history became assured. Small and fierce, with a broad face that conveyed menace as well as pathos, Robinson moved beyond gangster roles in films such as Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940), Flesh and Fantasy (1943) and Double Indemnity (1944, starring Barbara Stanwyck). Despite his patriotic work on behalf of the United States -- he was a multi-lingual radio presenter of Allied propaganda in Europe -- he was investigated as a communist sympathizer by Senator Joe McCarthy's committee in the early 1950s. Although Robinson was exonerated, it hurt his Hollywood career and he returned to the stage. His appearance in the 1956 epic The Ten Commandments marked the beginning of his role as a revered screen legend and character actor. His later movies include The Cincinnati Kid (1965, starring Steve McQueen), Mackenna's Gold (1969, starring Gregory Peck) and Soylent Green (1973, starring Charlton Heston). Robinson never won an Oscar, but two months after he died he was given a special award for his life's work.
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