Alan Arkin

Actor / Director / Writer
Date Of Birth:
26 March 1934
Date Of Death:
29 June 2023
Place Of Birth:
New York City, New York
Best Known As:
The foul-mouthed grandpa in Little Miss Sunshine
Veteran stage and screen star Alan Arkin was ultimately best known for his supporting roles in comedies, including Edward Scissorhands (1990) and his Oscar-winning turn in Little Miss Sunshine (2006). Alan Arkin began his career as a folk singer, of all things, then worked with the Second City improvisational troupe in Chicago and, later, on Broadway. He won a Tony for his first big stage role -- the lead in the Broadway version of Carl Reiner's Enter Laughing (1963) -- and he received an Oscar nomination for his first big movie role -- as a Soviet sailor in the film farce The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! (1966). He then turned in memorable dramatic performances on screen, terrorizing Audrey Hepburn in the 1967 thriller Wait Until Dark and earning another Oscar nomination as the lead in the 1968 film version of the Carson McCullers novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. He led the all-star cast of the Hollywood failure Catch-22 (1970, based on the bestseller by Joseph Heller), but during the 1970s he was a popular leading and supporting player in comedies, including Freebie and the Bean (1974, with James Caan), Hearts of the West (1975, with Jeff Bridges) and The In-Laws (1979). After several mediocre movies during the 1980s, Arkin started off the '90s with a memorable performance as the unruffled dad who helps Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands (directed by Tim Burton). Frequently cast in broad comedic roles, Arkin also appeared in the dramatic ensemble piece Glengarry Glen Ross (1992, with Alec Baldwin) and the film version of Kurt Vonnegut's Mother Night (1996, starring Nick Nolte). Over the years, Arkin directed several plays on Broadway and a handful of feature films, and he has published several children's books, including The Lemming Condition, Some Fine Grampa! and Tony's Hard Work Day. His later films included Grosse Pointe Blank (1997, starring John Cusack), Jakob the Liar (1999, starring Robin Williams) and Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001, with Matthew McConaughey). Alan Arkin received his third Oscar nomination in 2007, and won the Academy Award as best supporting actor, for his performance as the drug-addled, sharp-tongued grandfather in Little Miss Sunshine (2006, with Abigail Breslin). He was nominated again for an Oscar for his supporting role in the Ben Affleck movie Argo (2012). At the end of his career he had a hit with the cable series The Kominsky Method, starring alongside Michael Douglas for two seasons (2019-2020) in this show about an aging acting teacher (Douglas) and his agent and friend (Arkin).
Extra Credit

Alan Arkin was married three times: to Jeremy Yaffe (from 1955 until their divorce in 1961), to actress and writer Barbara Dana (from 1964 until their divorce in 1994) and to Suzanne Newlander (from 1994 until his death)… His three sons all became actors: Adam (born 1956), Matthew (b. 1960), and Anthony (b. 1967)… Alan Arkin co-wrote the 1950s single “The Banana Boat Song,” popularized by Harry Belafonte. Belafonte died in April of 2023, two months before Arkin’s death.

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