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Lee J. Cobb Edit Profile

actor

Lee J. Cobb was an American actor.

Background

Cobb, Lee J. was born on December 8, 1911 in New York City. Son of Benjamin Jacob and Kate (Neilecht) Cobb.

Education

Studied at College City New York.

Career

He had worked extensively in the American theatre before making his screen debut in North of the Rio Grande (37, Norman Watt) followed by Ali Baba Goes to Town (37, David Butler). Having played in the stage production of Clifford Odets’s Golden BOIJ (through his participation in the Group Theatre), Cobb also played in the movie, directed by Rouben Mamoulian in 1939. Cobb (in a supporting part) must have been intrigued by the story of a man torn between the violin and boxing, for as a child, only a broken wrist had prevented him from pursuing the violin.

From the mid-1940s, he became a leading character actor, chiefly for Fox: Men of Boy 's Town (41, Norman Taurog); The Moon Is Down (43, Irving Piehel); Tonight We Raid Calais (43, John Brahm); as the doctor in The Song of Bernadette (43, Henry King); Winged Victory (44, George Cukor); and Anna and the King of Siam (46. fohn Cromwell). Never abandoning the theatre, he created the role of Willy Loman in the Broadway production of Death of a Salesman. But his greatest screen impact was as a gangster villain, a character he returned to over twenty-five years with a loudmouth bravado that tends to become monotonous when dressed up in Actors’ Studio realism. He was happiest if encouraged to be grandiose: Johnny O’clock (47, Robert Rossen); Boomerang! (47, Elia Kazan); The Dark Past (48, Rudolph Mate); Call Northside 777 (48. Henry Hathaway); The Miracle of the Bells (48, Piehel); Thieves’ Highway (49, Jules Dassin); and Sirocco (51. Curtis Bernhardt).

After some difficulties with Joe McCarthy, he came back strong as the hoodlum- in-chief in On the Waterfront (54, Kazan); The Racers (55. Hathaway); The Left Hand of God (55, Edward Dmytryk); as the last relenterin 12 Angry Men (57, Sidney Lumet); The Garment Center (57, Vincent Sherman and Robert Aldrich); as the crazed outlaw chief in Man of the West (58, Anthony Mann); as the mobster fond of acid in Party Girl (58, Nicholas Ray). The snarl in these films is more credible than the occasional venture into fulsomeness: The Brothers Karamazov (57, Richard Brooks); Exodus (60, Otto Preminger); and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (61, Vincente Minnelli). In the 1960s, he spent some time in the TV series, The Virginian, but still turned in some rather mellow performances: Oiw Man Flint (65, Daniel Mann); Coogans Bluff (68, Don Siegel); Mackenna's Gold (69, |. Lee Thompson); The Liberation of L. B Jones (70. William Wyler); Macho Callahan (70, Bernard Kowalski); Lawman (71, Michael Winner); and The Exorcist (73, William Friedkin).

Membership

Member Group Theatre, New York City, 1935-1940, appeared Group production Golden Boy, London, England., 1938. Member Actors Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation Radio Artists, National Aero. Association, Aircrafts Pilots and Owners Association, Civil Air Patrol.

Connections

Married Helen Beverly, February 6, 1940. Married second, Mary Hirsch, July 1957.

father:
Benjamin Jacob Cobb

mother:
Kate (Neilecht) Cobb

spouses:
Helen Beverly

Mary Hirsch