By Donald Dewey
For a lot of his theater contemporaries, Lee J. Cobb (1911–1976) was once the best actor of his new release. In Hollywood he grew to become the definitive embodiment of gangsters, psychiatrists, and roaring lunatics. From 1939 till his loss of life, Cobb contributed riveting performances to a couple of movies, together with Boomerang, On the Waterfront, The Brothers Karamazov, 12 indignant Men, and The Exorcist. yet for all of his conspicuous achievements in movies, Cobb’s identify is so much pointed out with the nature Willy Loman within the unique level creation of Arthur Miller’s Death of a salesperson (1949). Directed by means of Elia Kazan, Cobb’s Broadway functionality proved to be a benchmark for American theater.
In Lee J. Cobb: Characters of an Actor, Donald Dewey seems on the existence and occupation of this flexible performer. From his reduce East part roots in manhattan City—where he used to be born Leo Jacob—to a number of accolades on degree and the large and small monitors, Cobb’s existence proved to be a tumultuous rollercoaster of highs and lows. As a number one guy of the theater, he gave a couple of compelling performances in such performs as Golden Boy and King Lear. For the Hollywood studios, Cobb healthy the outline of the “character actor.” not anyone larger epitomized the performer who without warning seems at the monitor and instantly grabs the audience’s realization. in the course of his forty-five-year occupation, there wasn’t an important star—from Humphrey Bogart and James Stewart to Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood—with whom he didn’t paintings.
Cobb used to be additionally via controversy: he seemed prior to the home Un-American actions Committee within the Fifties and used to be a witness to a movie-set homicide case within the Nineteen Seventies. via all of it, he by no means misplaced his flavor for quick automobiles and gin rummy. A endure of a guy with a voice that both accommodated growls and sibilant sympathies, Cobb was once undeniably an actor to be reckoned with. during this attention-grabbing publication, Dewey captures all the drama that surrounded Cobb, either on reveal and off.
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Additional info for Lee J. Cobb: Characters of an Actor
His final attempt for the corporate was once the 1936 creation of Johnny Johnson, an antiwar play written by means of Paul eco-friendly yet conceived after Strasberg’s antagonist Adler had long gone to composer Kurt Weill to invite him to compose tune for a nonnaturalistic crew project. the consequent paintings lasted purely sixty-eight performances, yet its peculiar mixture of antimilitarist speeches, spoken songs, and satirical comedy used to be as shut as Strasberg got here to the adventurous kind he had claimed to respect in Vakhtangov. lengthy ahead of attending to Johnny Johnson, in spite of the fact that, the gang as a company were on a curler coaster of melancholy, wish, extra melancholy, and yet another creation. The nadir got here within the iciness of 1933, after a brutally obtained staging of sunrise Powell’s titanic evening marked the fourth directly play to elevate primary questions about the company’s creative coherence and all yet burnt up the confident impact made via Green’s the home of Connelly. the corporate could pull out of what threatened to be a loose fall the subsequent September with its construction of Sidney Kingsley’s males in White, yet over lengthy months ahead of then, Clurman and Strasberg had no selection yet to allow their leader actors to head off for paintings in non-Group productions. purely their decision the place the corporate used to be involved avoided any expression of shock that the actors not just got here again, yet introduced with them valuable new blood like Cobb. Notes 1. Toby Cole and Helen Krich Chinoy (eds. ), Actors on appearing (New York: Crown alternate Paperbacks, 1949), p. 476. 2. Ibid. , p. 476. three. Ibid. , p. 484. four. Ibid. , p. 477. five. Ibid. , p. 477. 6. Ibid. , p. 478. 7. Harold Clurman, The Fervent Years: the gang Theatre & the 30’s (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975), p. eleven. eight. Ibid. , p. vi. nine. Wendy Smith, genuine existence Drama: the crowd Theatre and the US, 1931–1940 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. four. 10. Clurman, Fervent Years, p. eleven. eleven. Ibid. , p. 12. 12. Ibid. , p. 12. thirteen. Ibid. , p. 23. 14. Ibid. , p. 34. 15. mockingly, the least political have been the company’s management triumvirate of Clurman, Strasberg, and Crawford. sixteen. Clurman, Fervent Years, pp. 78–79. 17. Barry Paris (ed. ), Stella Adler on America’s grasp Playwrights—Eugene O’Neill, Clifford Odets, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, et al. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012), p. 372. 18. Clurman, Fervent Years, p. 118. 19. Ibid. , p. 220. 20. Ibid. , p. forty nine. 21. Helen Krich Chinoy, “Reunion: A Self-Portrait of the gang Theatre,” academic Theatre magazine 28, no. four (December 1976), p. 528. bankruptcy four staff reviews Cobb’s moment go back from California used to be nowhere close to as abject as his first one. His résumé from the Pasadena Playhouse helped him get radio paintings that, whereas no longer paying a lot, verged at the regular, and there has been not more speak of taking on one other exchange. extra, he chanced on a brand new York theater scene that had improved considerably even in his couple of minutes at the West Coast. If a few businesses, together with the crowd Theatre, had already been energetic whereas he were at urban collage facing his “standoff” with the rules of accounting, the suppurating melancholy and starvation for an lively reaction to its perceived explanations had prompted many extra ensembles in the intervening time, as usually as now not with a proletarian thrust.