Roman Polanski

Actor / Filmmaker / Fugitive
Date Of Birth:
18 August 1933
Place Of Birth:
Paris, France
Best Known As:
Director of Chinatown and The Pianist
Roman Polanski directed the critical and commercial hits Rosemary's Baby (1968, starring Mia Farrow) and Chinatown (1974, starring Jack Nicholson) before leaving the United States in 1978 after being charged with the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl. A childhood survivor of the Krakow ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland, Roman Polanski began acting as a teen, then went to film school and in the late 1950s began winning international awards for his short films. His first feature film, the tense drama Knife in the Water (1962), received an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film, and within a few years Polanski made his way to Hollywood. The success of the devilish Rosemary's Baby in 1968 was soon overshadowed by the 1969 murder of Polanski's pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, by members of a cult led by Charles Manson. Polanski returned to Europe, settling in France, and continued to make movies in Europe and the U.S. In 1977, Roman Polanski was charged in Los Angeles with drugging and raping a 13 year-old girl, Samantha Gailey, during what was supposed to be a magazine photo shoot. After a few months in jail for psychiatric review, Polanski was released on bail and allowed to leave the country to work on a film. He never returned. Polanski continued making movies in Europe and in the 1980s and '90s appeared many times on stage. His filmography includes some great films, some stinkers and a few that can be taken either way, but he is considered by many to be a great director -- an opinion reinforced by his 2003 Academy Award as best director for the Holocaust drama The Pianist (starring Adrien Brody). His other feature films include Tess (1980), Frantic (1988, starring Harrison Ford) , The Ninth Gate (2000, starring Johnny Depp), the 2005 version of Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist, the 2010 political thriller Ghost Writer (starring Ewan McGregor) and the 2017 psychodrama Based On a True Story (starring his wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, and Eva Green).
Extra Credit

The Pianist is an account of the German extermination of the Warsaw ghetto, echoing Roman Polanski’s own past… Roman Polanski was still a fugitive when he won the 2003 Oscar, so he did not attend the ceremonies in Los Angeles… The photo shoot incident with the 13-year-old girl took place at the home of Jack Nicholson (who was out of town). The girl’s name remained hidden for years, but as a married adult she identified herself publicly as Samantha Geimer; her name at the time of the incident was Samantha Jane Gailey… In 1989, Roman Polanski married actress Emmanuelle Seigner, who appears in his films Frantic and The Ninth Gate… roman Polanski published his autobiography, Roman, in 1984.

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