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Burton Stephen Lancaster (November 2, 1913 – October 20, 1994) was an American actor and producer. Initially known for playing tough guys with a tender heart, he went on to achieve success with more complex and challenging roles over a 45-year career in film and, later, television. He was a four-time nominee for the
Academy Award for Best Actor The Academy Award for Best Actor is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS, often pronounced ; also known as simply the Academy or the Motion Pictu ...
(winning once), and he also won two
BAFTA The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA, ) is an independent charity that supports, develops, and promotes the art forms of the moving image (film, television and games) in the United Kingdom. In addition to its annual awards ...
Awards and one
Golden Globe Award The Golden Globe Awards are accolades bestowed by the 87 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is a non-profit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a ...
for Best Lead Actor. The
American Film Institute The American Film Institute (AFI) is an American film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applyin ...
ranks Lancaster as of the greatest male stars of classic Hollywood cinema. Lancaster performed as a circus acrobat in the 1930s. After serving in
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, the 32-year-old Lancaster landed a role in a Broadway play and drew the attention of a Hollywood agent. His breakthrough role was the film noir ''
The Killers The Killers are an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compoun ...
'' in 1946 alongside
Ava Gardner Ava Lavinia Gardner (December 24, 1922 – January 25, 1990) was an American actress and singer. She first signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (also known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures or MGM) is ...

Ava Gardner
. A critical success, it launched both of their careers. In 1953, Lancaster played the illicit lover of
Deborah Kerr Deborah Jane Trimmer Order of the British Empire, CBE (30 September 192116 October 2007), known professionally as Deborah Kerr (), was a British actress. She was nominated six times for the Academy Award for Best Actress, and holds the record f ...

Deborah Kerr
in the military drama ''
From Here to Eternity ''From Here to Eternity'' is a 1953 American drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama ...
''. A box office smash, it won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and landed a Best Actor nomination for Lancaster. In 1956, he starred in '' The Rainmaker'', with
Katharine Hepburn Katharine Houghton Hepburn (May 12, 1907 – June 29, 2003) was an American actress of film, stage and television. Hepburn's career as a Hollywood leading lady spanned over 60 years. She was known for her headstrong independence, spirited ...
, earning a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination, and in 1957 he starred in ''
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral The gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a thirty-second shootout A shootout, also called a firefight or gunfight, is a gun battle between armed groups. A shootout often, but not exactly, pits law enforcement against criminal groups; it ca ...
'' with frequent co-star
Kirk Douglas Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; December 9, 1916 – February 5, 2020) was an American actor and filmmaker. After an impoverished childhood, he made his film debut in ''The Strange Love of Martha Ivers ''The Strange Love of Martha Iver ...

Kirk Douglas
. During the 1950s, his production company,
Hecht-Hill-LancasterHecht-Hill-Lancaster was a production company formed by the actor Burt Lancaster Burton Stephen Lancaster (November 2, 1913 – October 20, 1994) was an American actor and producer. Initially known for playing tough guys with a tender heart, he we ...
, was highly successful, with Lancaster acting in films such as: ''
Trapeze A trapeze is a short horizontal bar hung by ropes or metal straps from a ceiling support. It is an aerial apparatus commonly found in circus A circus is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainment shows that may include clow ...
'' in 1956, a box office smash in which he used his acrobatic skills; ''
Sweet Smell of Success ''Sweet Smell of Success'' is a 1957 American film noir drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on ...
'' (1957), a dark drama today considered a classic; ''
Run Silent, Run Deep ''Run Silent, Run Deep'' is a novel by Commander (later Captain) Edward L. Beach Jr. published in 1955 by Henry Holt & Co. ''Run Silent, Run Deep'' is also the name of a 1958 film of the same name starring Clark Gable William Clark Gable (Fe ...
'' (1958), a WWII submarine drama with
Clark Gable William Clark Gable (February 1, 1901November 16, 1960) was an American film actor, often referred to as "The King of Hollywood". He had roles in more than 60 motion pictures in multiple genres during a career that lasted 37 years, three decades ...

Clark Gable
; and ''
Separate Tables ''Separate Tables'' is the collective name of two one-act plays by Terence Rattigan, both taking place in the Beauregard Private Hotel, Bournemouth, on the south coast of England. The first play, titled ''Table by the Window'', focuses on the tro ...
'' (1958), a hotel-set drama which received seven Oscar nominations. In the early 1960s, Lancaster starred in a string of critically successful films, each in very disparate roles. Playing a charismatic biblical con-man in ''
Elmer Gantry ''Elmer Gantry'' is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis in 1926 that presents aspects of the religious activity of America in fundamentalist and evangelistic circles and the attitudes of the 1920s public toward it. The novel's protagonis ...
'' in 1960 won him the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Actor. He played a Nazi war criminal in 1961 in the all-star, war-crime-trial film, ''
Judgment at Nuremberg ''Judgment at Nuremberg'' is a 1961 American epic film, epic Legal drama, courtroom drama film directed and produced by Stanley Kramer, written by Abby Mann and starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Maximilian Schell, Werner Kle ...
''. Playing a bird expert prisoner in ''
Birdman of Alcatraz Robert Franklin Stroud (January 28, 1890 – November 21, 1963), known as the "Birdman of Alcatraz", was a convicted murderer, American federal prisoner and author who has been cited as one of the most notorious criminals in the United Sta ...
'' in 1962, he earned the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor and his third Oscar nomination. In 1963, Lancaster traveled to Italy to star as an Italian prince in the epic period drama ''
The Leopard ''The Leopard'' ( it, Il Gattopardo ) is a novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (; December 23, 1896 – July 26, 1957) was an Italian writer and the last Prince of Lampedusa. He is most famous for his only nov ...
''. In 1964, he played a US Air Force General who, opposed by a Colonel played by Kirk Douglas, tries to overthrow the President in ''
Seven Days in May ''Seven Days in May'' is a 1964 American political thriller film about a military-political cabal's planned takeover of the United States government in reaction to the president's negotiation of a disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union T ...
''. Then, in 1966, he played an explosives expert in the western '' The Professionals''. In 1970, Lancaster starred in the box-office hit, air-disaster drama ''
Airport An airport is an aerodrome An aerodrome (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval En ...
''. He experienced a career resurgence in 1980 with the crime-romance ''
Atlantic City Atlantic City, often known by its initials A.C., is a coastal Resort town, resort city in Atlantic County, New Jersey, Atlantic County, New Jersey, United States, known for its casinos, Boardwalk (entertainment district), boardwalk, and beache ...
'', winning the BAFTA for Best Actor and landing his fourth Oscar nomination. Starting in the late 1970s, he also appeared in television mini-series, including the award-winning ''Separate but Equal'' with
Sidney Poitier Sidney L. Poitier (; born February 20, 1927) is a Bahamian-American retired actor, film director, activist, and ambassador. In 1964, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor The Academy Award for Best Actor is an award presented annually by the ...

Sidney Poitier
. He continued acting into his late 70s, until a stroke in 1990 forced him to retire; four years later he died from a heart attack. His final film role was in the Oscar-nominated ''
Field of Dreams ''Field of Dreams'' is a 1989 American sports Sport pertains to any form of competitive Competition arises whenever two or more parties strive for a common goal A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or ...

Field of Dreams
''.


Early life

Lancaster was born on November 2, 1913, in
Manhattan Manhattan (), known regionally as ''The City'', is the most densely populated and geographically smallest of the five boroughs 5 is a number, numeral, and glyph. 5, five or number 5 may also refer to: * AD 5, the fifth year of the AD era ...

Manhattan
, New York, at his parents' home at 209 East 106th Street, the son of Elizabeth (''
née __NOTOC__ A birth name is the name of the person given upon their birth. The term may be applied to the surname In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name 300px, First/given, middle and l ...
'' Roberts) and mailman James Lancaster.Buford 2008, p. 12. Both of his parents were
Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants originating in the Ref ...
of working-class origin. All four of his grandparents were immigrants from Ireland to the United States, from the province of
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces of Ireland, provinces, in the north of Ireland. It is made up of nine Counties ...

Ulster
; his maternal grandparents were from
Belfast Belfast ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast. It is the 12th-largest city in the United Kingdom and the second-largest on the island of Ireland. It had a popul ...

Belfast
and were descendants of English immigrants to Ireland. Lancaster grew up in
East Harlem East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem or , is a neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, New York City, roughly encompassing the area north of the Upper East Side and bounded by 96th Street (Manhattan), 96th Street to the south, Fifth Avenue to the ...
and spent much of his time on the streets. He developed a great interest and skill in gymnastics while attending
DeWitt Clinton High School DeWitt Clinton High School is a public high school located since 1929 in the Bronx, New York, United States. Opened in 1897 in Lower Manhattan as an all-boys school, it maintained that status for nearly 100 years. In 1983 it became co-ed. From its ...
, where he was a
basketball Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, ...

basketball
star. Before he graduated from DeWitt Clinton, his mother died of a
cerebral hemorrhage Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), also known as cerebral bleed, intraparenchymal bleed, and hemorrhagic stroke, or haemorrhagic stroke, is a sudden bleeding into the tissues of the brain, into its ventricles, or into both. It is one kind of bleed ...
. Lancaster was accepted by
New York University New York University (NYU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of ne ...
with an athletic scholarship, but subsequently dropped out.


Circus career

At the age of 9, Lancaster met
Nick Cravat Nicholas Cuccia (pronounced ''coo-cha''; January 10, 1912 – January 29, 1994), better known by his stage name A stage name is a pseudonym A pseudonym () (originally: ψευδώνυμος in Greek) or alias () is a fictitious name that a ...
with whom he developed a lifelong partnership.Andreychuk 2005, p. 3. Together, they learned to act in local theatre productions and circus arts at Union Settlement, one of the city's oldest settlement houses. In the 1930s, they formed the acrobat duo ''Lang and Cravat'' and soon joined the Kay Brothers circus. However, in 1939, an injury forced Lancaster to give up the profession, with great regret. He then found temporary work, first as a salesman for Marshall Fields and then as a singing waiter in various restaurants.


World War II service

After the United States entered
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, Lancaster joined the
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists ma ...
in 1942 and performed with the Army's 21st Special Services Division, one of the military groups organized to follow the troops on the ground and provide
USO The United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) is an American nonprofit-charitable corporation that provides live entertainment, such as comedians, actors and musicians, social facilities, and other programs to members of the United States Armed Fo ...

USO
entertainment to keep up morale. He served with General Mark Clark's Fifth Army in Italy from 1943 to 1945.


Acting career


Broadway

Lancaster returned to New York after his Army service. Although initially unenthusiastic about acting, Lancaster was encouraged to audition for a Broadway play by a producer who saw him in an elevator while he was visiting his then-girlfriend at work. The audition was successful and Lancaster was cast in Harry Brown's '' A Sound of Hunting'' (1945). The show only ran three weeks, but his performance attracted the interest of a Hollywood agent,
Harold Hecht Harold Adolphe Hecht (June 1, 1907 – May 26, 1985) was an American film producer, dance director and talent agent. He was also, though less noted for, a literary agent, a theatrical producer A theatrical producer is a person who oversees all a ...
. Lancaster had other offers but Hecht promised him the opportunity to produce their own movies within five years of hitting Hollywood. Through Hecht, Lancaster was brought to the attention of producer
Hal B. Wallis Harold Brent Wallis (born Aaron Blum Wolowicz; October 19, 1898 – October 5, 1986) was an American film producer A film producer is a person who oversees film production. Either employed by a production company or working Independent film, in ...
, who signed him to a non-exclusive eight-movie contract.


Hal Wallis

Lancaster's first filmed movie was ''
Desert Fury ''Desert Fury'' is a 1947 American film noir crime film Crime films, in the broadest sense, is a film genre inspired by and analogous to the crime fiction literary genre. Films of this genre generally involve various aspects of crime and its ...
'' for Wallis in 1947, where Lancaster was billed after
John Hodiak John Hodiak ( ; April 16, 1914 – October 19, 1955) was an American actor who worked in radio, stage and film. Early life Hodiak was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Anna (Pogorzelec) and Walter Hodiak. He was of Ukrainian and Pol ...
and
Lizabeth Scott Lizabeth Virginia Scott (born Emma Matzo; September 29, 1921 – January 31, 2015) was an American actress and a model for the Walter Thornton Modeling Agency, known for her "smoky voice" and being "the most beautiful face of film noir Film n ...

Lizabeth Scott
. It was directed by Lewis Allen. Then producer
Mark Hellinger Mark John Hellinger (March 21, 1903 – December 21, 1947) was an American journalist A journalist is an individual trained to collect/gather information in form of text, audio or pictures, processes them to a news-worth form and disseminate ...

Mark Hellinger
approached him to star in 1946's ''
The Killers The Killers are an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compoun ...
'', which was completed and released prior to ''Desert Fury''. Directed by
Robert Siodmak Robert Siodmak (; 8 August 1900 – 10 March 1973) was a German film director who also worked in the United States. He is best remembered as a thriller specialist and for a series of stylish, unpretentious Hollywood films noirs he made in the 19 ...
, it was a great commercial and critical success and launched Lancaster and his co-star
Ava Gardner Ava Lavinia Gardner (December 24, 1922 – January 25, 1990) was an American actress and singer. She first signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (also known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures or MGM) is ...

Ava Gardner
to stardom. It has since come to be regarded as a classic. Hellinger used Lancaster again on '' Brute Force'' in 1947, a prison drama written by
Richard Brooks Richard Brooks (May 18, 1912 – March 11, 1992) was an American screenwriter, film director, novelist and film producer. Nominated for eight Oscars in his career, he was best known for '' Blackboard Jungle'' (1955), '' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'' ...

Richard Brooks
and directed by
Jules Dassin Julius "Jules" Dassin (December 18, 1911 – March 31, 2008) was an American film and theatre director, producer, writer and actor. A subject of the Hollywood blacklist The Hollywood blacklist was the colloquial term for what was in actuality ...
. It was also well received. Wallis released his films through Paramount, and so Lancaster and other Wallis contractees made cameos in '' Variety Girl'' in 1947. Lancaster's next film was a thriller for Wallis in 1947, ''
I Walk Alone ''I Walk Alone'' is a 1947 film noir directed by Byron Haskin and starring Burt Lancaster and Lizabeth Scott, with a supporting cast featuring Wendell Corey and Kirk Douglas Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; December 9, 1916 – Febr ...
'', co-starring Lizabeth Scott and a young
Kirk Douglas Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; December 9, 1916 – February 5, 2020) was an American actor and filmmaker. After an impoverished childhood, he made his film debut in ''The Strange Love of Martha Ivers ''The Strange Love of Martha Iver ...

Kirk Douglas
, who was also under contract to Wallis. ''
Variety Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes of algebraic structures defined by equations in universal algebra Hort ...
'' listed it as one of the top grossers of the year, taking in more than 2 million dollars. In 1948, Lancaster had a change of pace with the film adaptation of
Arthur Miller Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright and essayist in the 20th-century American theater. Among his most popular plays are ''All My Sons ''All My Sons'' is a three-act play written in 19 ...
's ''
All My Sons ''All My Sons'' is a three-act play written in 1946 by Arthur Miller. It opened on Broadway at the Coronet Theatre in New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, m ...
'', made at
Universal Pictures Universal Pictures (legally Universal City Studios LLC, also known as Universal Studios, or simply Universal; common metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an int ...
with
Edward G. Robinson Edward G. Robinson (born Emanuel Goldenberg; ; December 12, 1893January 26, 1973) was a Romanian American, Romanian-born American actor of stage and screen during Classical Hollywood cinema, Hollywood's Golden Age. He appeared in 30 Broadway pla ...

Edward G. Robinson
. His third film for Wallis was an adaptation of ''
Sorry, Wrong Number ''Sorry, Wrong Number'' is a 1948 American thriller film noir directed by Anatole Litvak and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster. The film was adapted by Lucille Fletcher from her 1943 radio play. Stanwyck was nominated for the Ac ...
'' in 1948, with
Barbara Stanwyck Barbara Stanwyck (born Ruby Catherine Stevens; July 16, 1907 – January 20, 1990) was an American actress, model, and dancer. A stage, film, and television star, she was known during her 60-year career as a consummate and versatile professional ...
.


Norma Productions

Hecht kept to his promise to Lancaster to turn producer. The two of them formed a company, Norma Productions, and did a deal with Universal to make a thriller about a disturbed G.I. in London, ''
Kiss the Blood Off My Hands ''Kiss the Blood Off My Hands'' is a 1948 American film noir thriller (genre), thriller directed by Norman Foster (director), Norman Foster. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Gerald Butler (author), Gerald Butler, it stars Joan F ...
'' in 1948, with
Joan Fontaine Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland (October 22, 1917 – December 15, 2013), known professionally as Joan Fontaine, was a British-American actress who is best known for her starring roles in Hollywood Hollywood is a neighborhood A neighb ...
and directed by Norman Foster. It made a profit of only $50,000, but was critically acclaimed. Back in Hollywood, Lancaster made another film noir with Siodmak, '' Criss Cross'', in 1949. It was originally going to be produced by Hellinger and when Hellinger died, another took over.
Tony Curtis Tony Curtis (born Bernard Schwartz; June 3, 1925September 29, 2010) was an American actor whose career spanned six decades, achieving the height of his popularity in the 1950s and early 1960s. He acted in more than 100 films in roles covering a ...

Tony Curtis
made an early appearance. Lancaster appeared in a fourth picture for Wallis, '' Rope of Sand'', in 1949. Norma Productions signed a three-picture deal with
Warner Bros. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (commonly known as Warner Bros. and abbreviated as WB) is an American diversified multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate Conglomerate or conglomeration may refer to: * Conglomerate (company) * ...
The first was 1950's ''
The Flame and the Arrow ''The Flame and the Arrow'' is a 1950 American Technicolor swashbuckler film made by Warner Bros. and starring Burt Lancaster, Virginia Mayo and Nick Cravat. It was directed by Jacques Tourneur and produced by Harold Hecht and Frank Ross (pro ...
'', a swashbuckler movie, in which Lancaster drew on his circus skills. Nick Cravat had a supporting role and the film was a huge commercial success, making $6 million. It was Warners' most popular film of the year and established an entirely new image for Lancaster.Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 30 Lancaster was borrowed by
20th Century Fox 20th Century Studios, Inc. (also known as 20th Century for short, and nicknamed 20th Pictures, formerly Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation) is an American film studio A film studio (also known as movie studio or simply studio) is a maj ...
for ''
Mister 880 ''Mister 880'' is a 1950 American drama film In film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of ap ...
'' in 1950, a comedy with
Edmund Gwenn Edmund Gwenn (born Edmund John Kellaway, 26 September 1877 – 6 September 1959) was an English actor. On film, he is best remembered for his role as Kris Kringle in the Christmas filmChristmas Christmas (or the Feast of the Nativity) ...
. MGM put him in a popular Western, ''
Vengeance Valley ''Vengeance Valley'' is a 1951 American Technicolor Technicolor is a series of color motion picture processes, the first version dating to 1916, and followed by improved versions over several decades. It was the second major color process, af ...
'' in 1951, then he went to Warners to play the title role in the biopic ''
Jim Thorpe – All-American ''Jim Thorpe – All-American'' (UK title: ''Man of Bronze'') is a 1951 American biographical film produced by Warner Bros. and directed by Michael Curtiz Michael Curtiz ( ; born Manó Kertész Kaminer; December 24, 1886 April 11, 1962) was ...
'', also in 1951.


Halburt

Norma signed a deal with
Columbia Pictures Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. is an American film production Filmmaking (film production) is the process by which a Film, motion picture is #Production, produced. Filmmaking involves a number of complex and discrete stages, starting wit ...
to make two films through a Norma subsidiary, Halburt. The first film was 1951's ''
Ten Tall Men ''Ten Tall Men'' is a 1951 American adventure film Adventure films are a genre of film whose plots feature elements of travel. They typically involve protagonists who must leave their home or place of comfort and go to far away lands to fulfill ...
'', where Lancaster was a member of the
French Foreign Legion The Foreign Legion (french: Légion étrangère'')'' is a body of the French Army The French Army, officially the Ground Army (french: Armée de Terre , ) to distinguish it from the French Air and Space Force The French Air and Space ...
.
Robert Aldrich Robert Burgess Aldrich (August 9, 1918 – December 5, 1983) was an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. His notable credits include '' Vera Cruz'' (1954), ''Kiss Me Deadly'' (1955), ''The Big Knife'' (1955), ''Autumn Le ...
worked on the movie as a production manager. The second was 1952's '' The First Time'', a comedy which was the directorial debut of
Frank Tashlin Frank Tashlin (born Francis Fredrick von Taschlein, February 19, 1913 – May 5, 1972), also known as Tish Tash and Frank Tash,https://www.lambiek.net/artists/t/tashlin_frank.htm was an American animator An animator is an artist who creates multip ...
. It was meant to star Lancaster but he wound up not appearing in the film—the first of their productions in which he did not act.


Hecht-Lancaster Productions

In 1951, the actor/producer duo changed the company's name to Hecht-Lancaster Productions. The first film under the new name was another swashbuckler: 1952's ''
The Crimson Pirate ''The Crimson Pirate'' is a 1952 American Technicolor Technicolor is a series of color motion picture processes, the first version dating to 1916, and followed by improved versions over several decades. It was the second major color process, ...
'', directed by Siodmak. Co-starring Cravat, it was extremely popular. Lancaster changed pace once more by doing a straight dramatic part in 1952's '' Come Back, Little Sheba'', based on a Broadway hit, with
Shirley Booth Shirley Booth (born Marjory Ford, August 30, 1898October 16, 1992) was an American actress. One of only 24 performers to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting The Triple Crown of Acting is a term used in the American entertainment industry to descr ...
, produced by Wallis and directed by
Daniel Mann Daniel Chugerman (August 8, 1912 – November 21, 1991), known professionally as Daniel Mann, was an American stage, film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are a ...
. Alternating with adventure films, he went into ''
South Sea Woman ''South Sea Woman'' is a 1953 American black-and-white action-comedy-drama film Comedy-drama, or dramedy, is a genre of dramatic works that combines elements of comedy and Drama (film and television), drama. History The advent of radio drama, ...
'' in 1952 at Warners. Part of the Norma-Warners contract was that Lancaster had to appear in some non-Norma films, of which this was one. In 1954, for his own company, Lancaster produced and starred in ''
His Majesty O'Keefe ''His Majesty O'Keefe'' is a 1954 American adventure film Adventure films are a genre of film whose plots feature elements of travel. They typically involve protagonists who must leave their home or place of comfort and go to far away lands to ...
'', a South Sea island tale shot in Fiji. It was co-written by James Hill, who would soon become a part of the Hecht-Lancaster partnership.


United Artists

Hecht and Lancaster left Warners for
United Artists United Artists Corporation (UA), currently doing business as United Artists Digital Studios, is an American digital production company. Founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. (16 April ...
, for what began as a two-picture deal, the first of which was to be 1954's ''
Apache The Apache () are a group of culturally related Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans ...
'', starring Lancaster as a Native American. They followed it with another Western in 1954, '' Vera Cruz'', co-starring
Gary Cooper Gary Cooper (born Frank James Cooper; May 7, 1901 – May 13, 1961) was an American actor known for his strong, silent, and understated acting style. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor The Academy Award for Best Actor is an award prese ...

Gary Cooper
and produced by Hill. Both films were directed by
Robert Aldrich Robert Burgess Aldrich (August 9, 1918 – December 5, 1983) was an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. His notable credits include '' Vera Cruz'' (1954), ''Kiss Me Deadly'' (1955), ''The Big Knife'' (1955), ''Autumn Le ...
and were hugely popular. United Artists signed Hecht-Lancaster to a multi-picture contract, to make seven films over two years. These included films in which Lancaster did not act. Their first was '' Marty'' in 1955, based on
Paddy Chayefsky Sidney Aaron "Paddy" Chayefsky (January 29, 1923 – August 1, 1981) was an American playwright, screenwriter and novelist. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, ...
's TV play starring
Ernest Borgnine Ernest Borgnine (; born Ermes Effron Borgnino; January 24, 1917 – July 8, 2012) was an American actor whose career spanned over six decades. He was noted for his gruff but relaxed voice and gap-toothed Cheshire Cat grin. A popular perfo ...

Ernest Borgnine
and directed by
Delbert Mann Delbert Martin Mann Jr. (January 30, 1920 – November 11, 2007) was an American television and film director. He won the Academy Award for Best Director The Academy Award for Best Director (officially known as the Academy Award of Merit ...
. It won both the Best Picture Oscar and the
Palme d'Or The Palme d'Or (; en, Golden Palm) is the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival The Cannes Festival (; french: link=no, Festival de Cannes), until 2003 called the International Film Festival (') and known in English as the Ca ...

Palme d'Or
award at
Cannes Cannes (; , ; oc, Canas) is a city located on the French Riviera The French Riviera (known in French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French ...

Cannes
. It also earned $2 million on a budget of $350,000.HOLLYWOOD DOSSIER: 'MARTY' HITS JACKPOT – TEAM – ON THE SET By OSCAR GODBOUT HOLLYWOOD.. ''The New York Times'' September 11, 1955: X7. ''Vera Cruz'' had been a huge success, but ''Marty'' secured Hecht-Lancaster as one of the most successful independent production companies in Hollywood at the time.Tino Balio, ''United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry'', University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p. 82 ''Marty'' star
Ernest Borgnine Ernest Borgnine (; born Ermes Effron Borgnino; January 24, 1917 – July 8, 2012) was an American actor whose career spanned over six decades. He was noted for his gruff but relaxed voice and gap-toothed Cheshire Cat grin. A popular perfo ...

Ernest Borgnine
was under contract to Hecht-Lancaster and was unhappy about his lack of upcoming roles, especially after only receiving some seven lines in 1957's ''Sweet Smell of Success'' and half of his pay for ''Marty''. He eventually sued for breach of contract to gain back some of this money in 1957. Without Hill, Hecht and Lancaster produced '' The Kentuckian'' in 1955; it was directed by Lancaster in his directorial debut, and he also played a lead role. Lancaster disliked directing and only did it once more, in the 1970s ('' The Midnight Man'', 1974). Lancaster still had commitments with Wallis, and made ''
The Rose Tattoo ''The Rose Tattoo'' is a three-act play written by Tennessee Williams Thomas Lanier Williams III (March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983), known by his pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' () or a literary double, is a pseudonym ( ...
'' for him in 1955, starring with
Anna Magnani Anna Maria Magnani (; 7 March 1908 – 26 September 1973) was an Italian actress.Obituary '' Variety'', 3 October 1973, pg. 47 She was known for her explosive acting and earthy, real life portrayals of characters. Born in Rome , establi ...

Anna Magnani
and
Daniel Mann Daniel Chugerman (August 8, 1912 – November 21, 1991), known professionally as Daniel Mann, was an American stage, film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are a ...
directing. It was very popular at the box office and critically acclaimed, winning Magnani an Oscar.


Hecht-Hill-Lancaster

In 1955, Hill was made an equal partner in Hecht-Lancaster, with his name added to the production company.
Hecht-Hill-LancasterHecht-Hill-Lancaster was a production company formed by the actor Burt Lancaster Burton Stephen Lancaster (November 2, 1913 – October 20, 1994) was an American actor and producer. Initially known for playing tough guys with a tender heart, he we ...
(HHL) released their first film ''
Trapeze A trapeze is a short horizontal bar hung by ropes or metal straps from a ceiling support. It is an aerial apparatus commonly found in circus A circus is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainment shows that may include clow ...
'' in 1956, with Lancaster performing many of his own stunts. The film, co-starring
Tony Curtis Tony Curtis (born Bernard Schwartz; June 3, 1925September 29, 2010) was an American actor whose career spanned six decades, achieving the height of his popularity in the 1950s and early 1960s. He acted in more than 100 films in roles covering a ...

Tony Curtis
and
Gina Lollobrigida Gina Lollobrigida (born Luigia Lollobrigida; 4 July 1927) is an Italian actress and photojournalist Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that ...

Gina Lollobrigida
, went on to become the production company's top box office success, and United Artists expanded its deal with HHL. In 1956, Lancaster and Hecht entered the music industry with the companies
Hecht-Lancaster & Buzzell Music Hecht-Lancaster & Buzzell Music, Inc. (sometimes referred to as Hecht-Lancaster-Buzzell Music Publishing, and later known as Hecht & Buzzell Music, Inc. and Colby Music, Inc.) was an American Music publisher, music publishing company founded by fi ...
and
Calyork Music Hecht-Lancaster & Buzzell Music, Inc. (sometimes referred to as Hecht-Lancaster-Buzzell Music Publishing, and later known as Hecht & Buzzell Music, Inc. and Colby Music, Inc.) was an American Music publisher, music publishing company founded by fi ...
. The HHL team impressed Hollywood with its success; as ''Life'' wrote in 1957, " ter the independent production of a baker's
dozen A dozen (commonly abbreviated doz or dz) is a grouping of 12 (number), twelve. The dozen may be one of the earliest primitive integer groupings, perhaps because there are approximately a dozen cycles of the Moon, or months, in a cycle of the Su ...
of pictures, it has yet to have its first flop ... (They were also good pictures.)."Hodgins, Eric
"Amid Ruins of an Empire a New Hollywood Arises."
''Life,'' June 10, 1957, p. 146. Retrieved: April 22, 2012.
In late 1957, they announced they would make ten films worth $14 million in 1958. Lancaster made two films for Wallis to complete his eight film commitment for that contract: '' The Rainmaker'' (1956) with
Katharine Hepburn Katharine Houghton Hepburn (May 12, 1907 – June 29, 2003) was an American actress of film, stage and television. Hepburn's career as a Hollywood leading lady spanned over 60 years. She was known for her headstrong independence, spirited ...
, which earned Lancaster a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor; and ''
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral The gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a thirty-second shootout A shootout, also called a firefight or gunfight, is a gun battle between armed groups. A shootout often, but not exactly, pits law enforcement against criminal groups; it ca ...
'' (1957) with Kirk Douglas, which was a huge commercial hit directed by
John Sturges John Eliot Sturges (; January 3, 1910 – August 18, 1992) was an American film director A film director controls a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts ...
. Lancaster re-teamed with
Tony Curtis Tony Curtis (born Bernard Schwartz; June 3, 1925September 29, 2010) was an American actor whose career spanned six decades, achieving the height of his popularity in the 1950s and early 1960s. He acted in more than 100 films in roles covering a ...

Tony Curtis
in 1957 for ''
Sweet Smell of Success ''Sweet Smell of Success'' is a 1957 American film noir drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on ...
'', a co-production between Hecht-Hill-Lancaster and Curtis' own company with wife
Janet Leigh Janet Leigh (born Jeanette Helen Morrison; July 6, 1927 – October 3, 2004) was an American actress, singer, dancer, and author, whose career spanned over five decades. Raised in Stockton, California by working-class parents, Leigh was discover ...
, Curtleigh Productions. The movie, directed by
Alexander Mackendrick Alexander Mackendrick (September 8, 1912 – December 22, 1993) was an American-Scottish director and professor. He was born in Boston Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in M ...
, was a critical success but a commercial disappointment. Over the years it has come to be regarded as one of Lancaster's greatest films. HHL produced seven additional films in the late 1950s. Four starred Lancaster: ''
Run Silent, Run Deep ''Run Silent, Run Deep'' is a novel by Commander (later Captain) Edward L. Beach Jr. published in 1955 by Henry Holt & Co. ''Run Silent, Run Deep'' is also the name of a 1958 film of the same name starring Clark Gable William Clark Gable (Fe ...
'' (1958), a
Robert Wise Robert Earl Wise (September 10, 1914 – September 14, 2005) was an American film director, producer, and editor. He won the Academy Awards for Academy Award for Best Director, Best Director and Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Picture for h ...
directed war film with
Clark Gable William Clark Gable (February 1, 1901November 16, 1960) was an American film actor, often referred to as "The King of Hollywood". He had roles in more than 60 motion pictures in multiple genres during a career that lasted 37 years, three decades ...

Clark Gable
, which was mildly popular; ''
Separate Tables ''Separate Tables'' is the collective name of two one-act plays by Terence Rattigan, both taking place in the Beauregard Private Hotel, Bournemouth, on the south coast of England. The first play, titled ''Table by the Window'', focuses on the tro ...
'' (1958) a hotel-set drama with Kerr and
Rita Hayworth Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Carmen Cansino; October 17, 1918May 14, 1987) was an American actress, dancer, and producer. She achieved fame during the 1940s as one of the era's top stars, appearing in 61 films over 37 years. The press coined t ...
(who married James Hill), which received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and Oscar awards for lead actor
David Niven James David Graham Niven (; 1 March 1910 – 29 July 1983) was a British actor, memoirist, and novelist. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor The Academy Award for Best Actor is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Pictu ...
and supporting actress
Wendy Hiller Dame Wendy Margaret Hiller, (15 August 1912 – 14 May 2003) was an English film and stage actress who enjoyed a varied acting career that spanned nearly sixty years. The writer Joel Hirschorn, in his 1984 compilation ''Rating the Movie Stars'' ...
, and was both a critical and commercial success; ''
The Devil's Disciple ''The Devil's Disciple'' is an 1897 play written by Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw George Bernard Shaw (; 26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist ...
'' (1959), with Douglas and
Laurence Olivier Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, (; 22 May 1907 – 11 July 1989) was an English actor and director who, along with his contemporaries Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud, was one of a trio of male actors who dominated the British stage ...
, which lost money (and saw Lancaster fire Mackendrick during shooting); and the Western '' The Unforgiven'' (1960), with
Audrey Hepburn Audrey Hepburn (born Audrey Kathleen Ruston; 4 May 1929 – 20 January 1993) was a British actress and humanitarian. Recognised as both a film and fashion icon, she was ranked by the American Film Institute The American Film Institute (AFI) ...

Audrey Hepburn
, which was a critical and commercial disappointment. Three were made without Lancaster, all of which lost money: '' The Bachelor Party'' (1957), from another TV play by Chayefsky, and directed by Delbert Mann; ''
Take a Giant Step ''Take a Giant Step'' is a 1959 American coming-of-age drama film directed by Philip Leacock. The plot concerns a black teenager living in a predominantly white environment and having trouble coping as he reaches an age at which the realities ...
'' (1959), about a black student; and ''
Summer of the Seventeenth Doll ''Summer of the Seventeenth Doll'' is an Australian play written by Ray Lawler and first performed at the University of Melbourne Student Union#Theatres, Union Theatre in Melbourne on 28 November 1955. The play is considered to be the most signif ...
'' (1960), from an Australian play, shot on location in Australia and Britain. Additionally, HHL served as the production company for the 1960–61 TV series ''
Whiplash Whiplash may refer to: * The long flexible part of a whip * Whiplash (medicine), a neck injury ** Whiplash Injury Protection System (WHIPS), in automobiles Film and television * Whiplash (1948 film), ''Whiplash'' (1948 film), a US film noir * ''Wh ...
''. The Hecht-Hill-Lancaster Productions company dissolved in 1960 after Hill ruptured his relationship with both Hecht and Lancaster.


Hecht and Lancaster

Lancaster played the title role in ''
Elmer Gantry ''Elmer Gantry'' is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis in 1926 that presents aspects of the religious activity of America in fundamentalist and evangelistic circles and the attitudes of the 1920s public toward it. The novel's protagonis ...
'' (1960), written and directed by Richard Brooks for United Artists. The film received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor. Lancaster won the 1960 Academy Award for Best Actor, a Golden Globe Award, and the
New York Film Critics AwardThe New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Picture is an award given by the New York Film Critics Circle, honoring the finest achievements in filmmaking. Winners 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s S ...
for his performance. Hecht and Lancaster worked together on ''
The Young Savages ''The Young Savages'' is a 1961 American crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definit ...
'' (1961), directed by
John Frankenheimer John Michael Frankenheimer (February 19, 1930 – July 6, 2002) was an American film and television director known for social dramas and action/suspense films. Among his credits were ''Birdman of Alcatraz (film), Birdman of Alcatraz'' (1962), ''T ...
and produced by Hecht.
Sydney Pollack Sydney Irwin Pollack (July 1, 1934 – May 26, 2008) was an American film director, producer and actor. Pollack directed more than 20 films and 10 television shows, acted in over 30 movies or shows and produced over 44 films. For his film ''Out ...

Sydney Pollack
worked as a dialogue coach. Lancaster starred in ''
Judgment at Nuremberg ''Judgment at Nuremberg'' is a 1961 American epic film, epic Legal drama, courtroom drama film directed and produced by Stanley Kramer, written by Abby Mann and starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Maximilian Schell, Werner Kle ...
'' (1961) for
Stanley Kramer Stanley Earl Kramer (September 29, 1913February 19, 2001) was an American film director and film producer, producer, responsible for making many of Hollywood's most famous "Social problem film, message films".
Stanley Kramer
, alongside
Spencer Tracy Spencer Bonaventure Tracy (April 5, 1900 – June 10, 1967) was an American actor, known for his natural performing style and versatility. One of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, Tracy was the first actor to win two consecutive ...

Spencer Tracy
,
Richard Widmark Richard Weedt Widmark (December 26, 1914March 24, 2008) was an American film, stage, and television actor and film producer, producer. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as the villainous Tommy Udo in his debut film, ''Kiss of D ...
and a number of other iconic stars. The film was both a commercial and critical success, receiving 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. He then did another film with Hecht and Frankenheimer (replacing
Charles Crichton Charles Ainslie Crichton (6 August 1910 – 14 September 1999) was an English film director and film editor, editor. Born in Wallasey, Cheshire, he became best known for directing many comedies produced at Ealing Studios and had a 40-year ...
), ''
Birdman of Alcatraz Robert Franklin Stroud (January 28, 1890 – November 21, 1963), known as the "Birdman of Alcatraz", was a convicted murderer, American federal prisoner and author who has been cited as one of the most notorious criminals in the United Sta ...
'' (1962), a largely fictionalized biography. In it he plays
Robert Stroud Robert Franklin Stroud (January 28, 1890 – November 21, 1963), known as the "Birdman of Alcatraz", was a convicted murderer, American federal prisoner and author who has been cited as one of the most notorious criminals in the United Sta ...
, a federal prisoner incarcerated for life for two murders, who begins to collect birds and over time becomes an expert in bird diseases, even publishing a book. The film shows Stroud transferred to the maximum security Alcatraz prison where he is not allowed to keep birds and as he ages he gets married, markets bird remedies, helps stop a prison rebellion, and writes a book on the history of the U.S. penal system, but never gets paroled. The sympathetic performance earned Lancaster a Best Actor Oscar nomination, a BAFTA Award for Best Actor, and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Dramatic Role. Hecht went on to produce five films without Lancaster's assistance, through his company Harold Hecht Films Productions between 1961 and 1967, including another Academy Award winner, ''
Cat Ballou ''Cat Ballou'' is a 1965 American Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality ...
'', starring
Lee Marvin Lee Marvin (February 19, 1924 – August 29, 1987) was an American film and television actor. Known for his distinctive voice and premature white hair, Marvin initially appeared in supporting roles, mostly villains, soldiers, and other hardboil ...
and
Jane Fonda Jane Seymour Fonda (born December 21, 1937) is an American actress, political activist, environmentalist, and former fashion model. She is the recipient of various accolades including two Academy Awards The Academy Awards, popularly kn ...
.


Collaborations with younger filmmakers

Lancaster made ''
A Child Is Waiting ''A Child Is Waiting'' is a 1963 American drama film In film and television show, television, drama is a category of narrative fiction (or docudrama, semi-fiction) intended to be more serious than humour, humorous in tone. Drama of this kind ...
'' (1963) with
Judy Garland Judy Garland (born Frances Ethel Gumm; June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) was an American actress and singer. She is widely known for playing the role of Dorothy Gale Dorothy Gale is a fictional character created by American author L. Frank Baum ...
. It was produced by Kramer and directed by
John Cassavetes John Nicholas Cassavetes ( ; el, Ιωάννης Νικόλαος Κασσαβέτης, Ioánnis Nikólaos Kassavétis; December 9, 1929 – February 3, 1989) was an American actor, film director, and screenwriter. First known as an actor on tel ...
. He went to Italy to star in ''
The Leopard ''The Leopard'' ( it, Il Gattopardo ) is a novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (; December 23, 1896 – July 26, 1957) was an Italian writer and the last Prince of Lampedusa. He is most famous for his only nov ...
'' (1963) for
Luchino Visconti Luchino Visconti di Modrone, Count of Lonate Pozzolo (; 2 November 1906 – 17 March 1976) was an Italian filmmaker, stage director, and screenwriter. A major figure of Italian art and culture in the mid-20th century, Visconti was one of the fat ...
, co-starring
Alain Delon Alain Fabien Maurice Marcel Delon (; born 8 November 1935) is a French actor and businessman. He is known as one of Europe's most prominent actors and screen sex symbol A sex symbol is a person or character widely considered Sexual attract ...

Alain Delon
and
Claudia Cardinale Claude Joséphine Rose "Claudia" Cardinale (; born 15 April 1938) is a Tunisian-born Italians, Italian film actress who starred in some of the most acclaimed European films of the 1960s and 1970s, mainly Italian or French, but also in many Engli ...
. It was one of Lancaster's favourite films and was a big hit in France but failed in the US (though the version released was much truncated.) He had a small role in ''
The List of Adrian Messenger ''The List of Adrian Messenger'' is a 1963 American mystery film A mystery film is a genre of film that revolves around the solution of a problem or a crime. It focuses on the efforts of the detective A detective is an investigator, usually a ...
'' (1963) for producer/star Kirk Douglas, and then did two for Frankenheimer: ''
Seven Days in May ''Seven Days in May'' is a 1964 American political thriller film about a military-political cabal's planned takeover of the United States government in reaction to the president's negotiation of a disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union T ...
'' (1964), a political thriller with Douglas, and '' The Train'' (1964), a World War Two action film (Lancaster had Frankenheimer replace
Arthur Penn Arthur Hiller Penn (September 27, 1922 – September 28, 2010) was an American director and producer of film, television and theater. Closely associated with the American New Wave, Penn directed critically acclaimed films throughout the 1 ...
several days into filming). Lancaster starred in ''
The Hallelujah Trail ''The Hallelujah Trail'' is a 1965 American Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a ...
'' (1965), a comic Western produced and directed by
John Sturges John Eliot Sturges (; January 3, 1910 – August 18, 1992) was an American film director A film director controls a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts ...
which failed to recoup its large cost.Glenn Lovell, ''Escape Artist: The Life and Films of John Sturges'', University of Wisconsin Press, 2008 p250 He had a big hit with '' The Professionals'' (1966), a Western directed by Brooks and also starring
Lee Marvin Lee Marvin (February 19, 1924 – August 29, 1987) was an American film and television actor. Known for his distinctive voice and premature white hair, Marvin initially appeared in supporting roles, mostly villains, soldiers, and other hardboil ...
. In 1966, at the age of 52, Lancaster appeared nude in director
Frank Perry Frank Joseph Perry Jr. (August 21, 1930 – August 29, 1995) was an American stage director and filmmaker. His 1962 independent film '' David and Lisa'' earned an Academy Award for Best Director, Academy Award nomination for Best Director and Ac ...
's film '' The Swimmer'' (1968), in what the critic
Roger Ebert Roger Joseph Ebert (; June 18, 1942 – April 4, 2013) was an American Film criticism, film critic, film historian, journalist, screenwriter, and author. He was a film critic for the ''Chicago Sun-Times'' from 1967 until his death in 2013. In ...

Roger Ebert
called "his finest performance". Prior to working on ''The Swimmer'', Lancaster was terrified of the water because he did not know how to swim. In preparation for the film, he took swimming lessons from
UCLA The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organ ...
swim coach Bob Horn. Filming was difficult and clashes between Lancaster and Perry led to
Sydney Pollack Sydney Irwin Pollack (July 1, 1934 – May 26, 2008) was an American film director, producer and actor. Pollack directed more than 20 films and 10 television shows, acted in over 30 movies or shows and produced over 44 films. For his film ''Out ...

Sydney Pollack
coming in to do some filming.Stafford, Jef
"The Swimmer" (article)
on
TCM.com Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is an American movie-oriented pay-TV Pay television, also known as subscription television, premium television or, when referring to an individual service, a premium channel, refers to subscription The subscri ...
The film was not released until 1968, when it proved to be a commercial failure, though Lancaster remained proud of the movie and his performance.


Norlan Productions

In 1967, Lancaster formed a new partnership with
Roland Kibbee Roland Kibbee (15 February 1914 in Monongahela, Pennsylvania – 5 August 1984 in Encino, California) was an award-winning American screenwriter and producer. He was a frequent collaborator and friend of actor-producer Burt Lancaster. Career ...
, who had already worked as a writer on five Lancaster projects: * ''Ten Tall Men'' * ''The Crimson Pirate''* * ''
Three Sailors and a Girl ''Three Sailors and a Girl'' is a 1953 Technicolor musical film Musical film is a film genre in which songs by the Character (arts), characters are interwoven into the narrative, sometimes accompanied by dancing. The songs usually advance the pl ...
'' (in which Lancaster made a cameo appearance) * ''Vera Cruz'' * ''The Devil's Disciple'' Through Norlan Productions, Lancaster and Kibbee produced '' The Scalphunters'' in 1968, directed by Sydney Pollack. Lancaster followed it with another film from Pollack, ''
Castle Keep ''Castle Keep'' is a 1969 American comedy-drama Comedy music, Comedy-drama, or dramedy, is a genre of dramatic works that combines elements of comedy and Drama (film and television), drama. In the United States Example include ''The Days a ...

Castle Keep
'' in 1969, which was a big flop. So was ''
The Gypsy Moths ''The Gypsy Moths'' is a 1969 American drama film In film and television show, television, drama is a category of narrative fiction (or docudrama, semi-fiction) intended to be more serious than humour, humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is u ...
'', for Frankenheimer, also in 1969.


1970s

Lancaster had one of the biggest successes of his career with ''
Airport An airport is an aerodrome An aerodrome (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval En ...
'' in 1970, starring alongside
Dean Martin Dean Martin (born Dino Paul Crocetti; June 7, 1917 – December 25, 1995) was an American singer, actor and comedian of Italian descent. One of the most popular and enduring American entertainers of the mid-20th century, Martin was nicknamed ...
,
Jean Seberg Jean Dorothy Seberg (; ; November 13, 1938August 30, 1979) was an American actress who lived half of her life in France. Her performance in Jean-Luc Godard's 1960 film Breathless (1960 film), ''Breathless'' immortalized her as an Pop icon, icon ...
and
Jacqueline Bisset Winifred Jacqueline Fraser Bisset ( ; born 13 September 1944) is an English actress. She began her film career in 1965 and first came to prominence in 1968 with roles in ''The Detective (1968 film), The Detective'', ''Bullitt'', and ''The Swee ...

Jacqueline Bisset
. The film received nine Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. It became one of the biggest box-office hits of 1970 and, at that time, reportedly the highest-grossing film in the history of
Universal Pictures Universal Pictures (legally Universal City Studios LLC, also known as Universal Studios, or simply Universal; common metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an int ...
. He then went into a series of Westerns: '' Lawman'' in 1971, directed by
Michael Winner Robert Michael Winner (30 October 1935 – 21 January 2013) was an English filmmaker Filmmaking (or, in any context, film production) is the process by which a film is made. Filmmaking involves a number of complex and discrete stages includi ...

Michael Winner
; '' Valdez Is Coming'' in 1971, for Norlan; and ''
Ulzana's Raid ''Ulzana's Raid'' is a 1972 American western (genre), Western film starring Burt Lancaster, Richard Jaeckel, Bruce Davison and Joaquin Martinez. The film, which was filmed on location in Arizona, was directed by Robert Aldrich based on a script by A ...
'' in 1972, directed by Aldrich and produced by himself and Hecht. None were particularly popular but ''Ulzana's Raid'' has become a cult film."I CAN'T GET JIMMY CARTER TO SEE MY MOVIE!" Aldrich, Robert. Film Comment; New York Vol. 13, Iss. 2, (Mar/Apr 1977): 46-52. Lancaster did two thrillers, both 1973: '' Scorpio'' with Winner and ''
Executive Action Executive actions of the CIA are directives issued to the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States. History The CIA was created under the National Security Act of 1947, which Harry S. Truman, President Harry S. Truman signed on July 26, ...
''. Lancaster returned to directing in 1974 with '' The Midnight Man'', which he also wrote and produced with Kibee. He made a second film with Visconti, ''
Conversation Piece ''Sir George and Lady Strickland in the Grounds of Boynton Hall'', oil on canvas, 1751. A conversation piece by Arthur Devis. A conversation piece is an informal group portrait A portrait is a portrait painting, painting, portrait photography, ...
'' in 1974 and played the title role in the TV series ''
Moses the Lawgiver ''Moses the Lawgiver'' is a 6-hour Italian/British television miniseries filmed in 1973/74 and starring Burt Lancaster as Moses. It was an ITC Entertainment, ITC/RAI co-production filmed in Rome and on location in Israel and Morocco. Many of th ...
'', also in 1974. Lancaster was one of many names in 1975's ''
1900 As of March 1 Events Pre-1600 *509 BC – Publius Valerius Publicola celebrates the first Roman triumph, triumph of the Roman Republic after his victory over the deposed king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus at the Battle of Silva Arsia. ...
'', directed by
Bernardo Bertolucci Bernardo Bertolucci (; 16 March 1941 – 26 November 2018) was an Italian director and screenwriter, whose films include '' The Conformist'', ''Last Tango in Paris ''Last Tango in Paris'' ( it, Ultimo tango a Parigi; french: Le Dernier Tang ...

Bernardo Bertolucci
, and he had a cameo in 1976's ''
Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson ''Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson'' is a 1976 revisionist Western The Revisionist Western, Anti-Western or Post-Western is a subgenre Genre () is any form or type of communication Communication (from Latin '' ...
'' for
Robert Altman Robert Bernard Altman (; February 20, 1925 – November 20, 2006) was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Altman is known as a five-time nominee of the Academy Award for Best Director The Academy Award for Best Director ( ...
. He played
Shimon Peres Shimon Peres (; he, שמעון פרס ; born Szymon Perski; 2 August 1923 – 28 September 2016) was an Israeli politician who served as the ninth In music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, ...

Shimon Peres
in the TV movie '' Victory at Entebbe'' in 1977 and had a supporting role in ''
The Cassandra Crossing ''The Cassandra Crossing'' is a 1976 disaster thriller film Thriller film, also known as suspense film or suspense thriller, is a broad film genre that evokes excitement and suspense in the audience. The suspense element found in most films' p ...
'' in 1976. He made a fourth and final film with Aldrich, '' Twilight's Last Gleaming'' in 1977, and had the title role in 1977's '' The Island of Dr. Moreau''. Lancaster was top-billed in ''
Go Tell the Spartans ''Go Tell the Spartans'' is a 1978 American war film War film is a film genre concerned with warfare, typically about naval, air, or land Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water. The vast m ...
'' in 1978, a
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
film; Lancaster admired the script so much that he took a reduced fee and donated money to help the movie to be completed. He was in ''
Zulu Dawn ''Zulu Dawn'' is a 1979 American adventure An adventure is an exciting experience that is typically bold, sometimes risky or undertaking. Adventures may be activities with some potential for physical danger such as traveling, exploring, skyd ...
'' in 1979.


1980s

Lancaster began the 1980s with a highly acclaimed performance alongside
Susan Sarandon Susan Abigail Sarandon (; Tomalin; born October 4, 1946) is an American actressMcCabe, Bruce"Susan Sarandon, the 'actor'" ''Boston Globe''. April 17, 1981. Retrieved January 21, 2021. and activist. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, i ...

Susan Sarandon
in ''
Atlantic City Atlantic City, often known by its initials A.C., is a coastal Resort town, resort city in Atlantic County, New Jersey, Atlantic County, New Jersey, United States, known for its casinos, Boardwalk (entertainment district), boardwalk, and beache ...
'' in 1980, directed by
Louis Malle Louis Marie Malle (; 30 October 1932 – 23 November 1995) was a French film director, screenwriter, and producer. His film '' Le Monde du silence'' won the Palme d'Or The Palme d'Or (; en, Golden Palm) is the highest prize awarded at the ...
. The film received 5 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and a Best Actor nomination for Lancaster. He had key roles in '' Cattle Annie and Little Britches'' in 1981, '' The Skin'' in 1982 with Cardinale, ''
Marco Polo Marco Polo (, , ; September 15, 1254January 8, 1324) was a merchant, explorer, and writer who travelled through Asia along the between 1271 and 1295. His travels are recorded in ' (also known as ''Book of the Marvels of the World '' and '' ...
'', also in 1982, and '' Local Hero'' in 1983. By now, Lancaster was mostly a character actor in features, as in ''
The Osterman Weekend ''The Osterman Weekend'' is a thriller novel by Robert Ludlum. First published in 1972, it was the author's second book. The novel was the basis for the The Osterman Weekend (film), film of the same title. Plot John Tanner, Director of News of ...
'' in 1983, but he was the lead in the TV movie ''
Scandal Sheet Tabloid journalism is a popular style of largely sensationalist journalism Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on current events based on facts and supported with proof or evidence. The word journalism applies to the ...
'' in 1985. He was in '' Little Treasure'' in 1985, directed by
Alan Sharp Alan Sharp (12 January 1934 – 8 February 2013) was a Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Scotl ...
, who had written ''Ulzana's Raid''; ''
On Wings of Eagles ''On Wings of Eagles'' is a 1983 non-fiction thriller written by British author Ken Follett. Set against the background of the Iranian revolution, it tells a story based on the rescue of Paul Chiapparone and Bill Gaylord from prison in Tehran by a ...
'' for TV in 1986, as Bull Simons; 1986's made for TV '' Barnum'' starred him in the title role; ''
Tough Guys ''Tough Guys'' is a 1986 American action comedy film directed by Jeff Kanew and starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Eli Wallach, Charles Durning, Dana Carvey and Darlanne Fluegel. It was the seventh film to be released under the banner of Touch ...
'' reunited him on the big screen with Kirk Douglas in 1986; '' Fathers and Sons: A German Tragedy'' in 1986 for German TV; 1987's ''Control (1987 film), Control'' made in Italy; ''Rocket Gibraltar'' in 1988, and ''La bottega dell'orefice, The Jeweller's Shop'' in 1989. His first critical success in a while was ''
Field of Dreams ''Field of Dreams'' is a 1989 American sports Sport pertains to any form of competitive Competition arises whenever two or more parties strive for a common goal A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or ...

Field of Dreams
'' in 1989, in which he played a supporting role as Moonlight Graham. He was also in the miniseries ''The Betrothed (miniseries), The Betrothed'' in 1989.


Later career

Lancaster's final performances included TV mini series ''The Phantom of the Opera (1990 film), The Phantom of the Opera'' (1990); ''Voyage of Terror: The Achille Lauro Affair'' (1990) as Leon Klinghoffer based on the 1985 MS Achille Lauro incident; and ''Separate But Equal (film), Separate But Equal'' (1991) with
Sidney Poitier Sidney L. Poitier (; born February 20, 1927) is a Bahamian-American retired actor, film director, activist, and ambassador. In 1964, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor The Academy Award for Best Actor is an award presented annually by the ...

Sidney Poitier
.


Frequent collaborators

Lancaster appeared in a total of 17 films produced by his agent,
Harold Hecht Harold Adolphe Hecht (June 1, 1907 – May 26, 1985) was an American film producer, dance director and talent agent. He was also, though less noted for, a literary agent, a theatrical producer A theatrical producer is a person who oversees all a ...
. Eight of these were co-produced by James Hill (producer), James Hill. He also appeared in eight films produced by
Hal B. Wallis Harold Brent Wallis (born Aaron Blum Wolowicz; October 19, 1898 – October 5, 1986) was an American film producer A film producer is a person who oversees film production. Either employed by a production company or working Independent film, in ...
and two with producer
Mark Hellinger Mark John Hellinger (March 21, 1903 – December 21, 1947) was an American journalist A journalist is an individual trained to collect/gather information in form of text, audio or pictures, processes them to a news-worth form and disseminate ...

Mark Hellinger
. Although Lancaster's work alongside Kirk Douglas was mostly known as a successful pair of actors, Douglas, in fact, produced four films for the pair, through his production companies Bryna Productions and Joel Productions. Roland Kibbee also produced three Lancaster films, and Lancaster was also cast in two
Stanley Kramer Stanley Earl Kramer (September 29, 1913February 19, 2001) was an American film director and film producer, producer, responsible for making many of Hollywood's most famous "Social problem film, message films".
Stanley Kramer
productions. Kirk Douglas starred in seven films across the decades with Burt Lancaster: ''
I Walk Alone ''I Walk Alone'' is a 1947 film noir directed by Byron Haskin and starring Burt Lancaster and Lizabeth Scott, with a supporting cast featuring Wendell Corey and Kirk Douglas Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch; December 9, 1916 – Febr ...
'' (1948), ''Gunfight at the O.K. Corral'' (1957), ''The Devil's Disciple'' (1959), ''
The List of Adrian Messenger ''The List of Adrian Messenger'' is a 1963 American mystery film A mystery film is a genre of film that revolves around the solution of a problem or a crime. It focuses on the efforts of the detective A detective is an investigator, usually a ...
'' (1963), ''
Seven Days in May ''Seven Days in May'' is a 1964 American political thriller film about a military-political cabal's planned takeover of the United States government in reaction to the president's negotiation of a disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union T ...
'' (1964), '' Victory at Entebbe'' (1976) and ''Tough Guys'' (1986), which fixed the notion of the pair as something of a team in the public imagination. Douglas was always billed under Lancaster in these movies but, with the exception of ''I Walk Alone'', in which Douglas played a villain, their roles were usually more or less the same size. Both actors arrived in Hollywood at about the same time, and first appeared together in the fourth film for each, albeit with Douglas in a supporting role. They both became actor-producers who sought out independent Hollywood careers.
John Frankenheimer John Michael Frankenheimer (February 19, 1930 – July 6, 2002) was an American film and television director known for social dramas and action/suspense films. Among his credits were ''Birdman of Alcatraz (film), Birdman of Alcatraz'' (1962), ''T ...
directed five films with Lancaster: * 1961's ''
The Young Savages ''The Young Savages'' is a 1961 American crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definit ...
'' (1961) * 1962's ''Birdman of Alcatraz'' (1962) * 1964's ''
Seven Days in May ''Seven Days in May'' is a 1964 American political thriller film about a military-political cabal's planned takeover of the United States government in reaction to the president's negotiation of a disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union T ...
'' * 1964's '' The Train'' * 1969's ''
The Gypsy Moths ''The Gypsy Moths'' is a 1969 American drama film In film and television show, television, drama is a category of narrative fiction (or docudrama, semi-fiction) intended to be more serious than humour, humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is u ...
'' He was directed four times by
Robert Aldrich Robert Burgess Aldrich (August 9, 1918 – December 5, 1983) was an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. His notable credits include '' Vera Cruz'' (1954), ''Kiss Me Deadly'' (1955), ''The Big Knife'' (1955), ''Autumn Le ...
, three times each by
Robert Siodmak Robert Siodmak (; 8 August 1900 – 10 March 1973) was a German film director who also worked in the United States. He is best remembered as a thriller specialist and for a series of stylish, unpretentious Hollywood films noirs he made in the 19 ...
and
Sydney Pollack Sydney Irwin Pollack (July 1, 1934 – May 26, 2008) was an American film director, producer and actor. Pollack directed more than 20 films and 10 television shows, acted in over 30 movies or shows and produced over 44 films. For his film ''Out ...

Sydney Pollack
, and twice each by Byron Haskin,
Daniel Mann Daniel Chugerman (August 8, 1912 – November 21, 1991), known professionally as Daniel Mann, was an American stage, film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are a ...
, John Sturges, John Huston,
Richard Brooks Richard Brooks (May 18, 1912 – March 11, 1992) was an American screenwriter, film director, novelist and film producer. Nominated for eight Oscars in his career, he was best known for '' Blackboard Jungle'' (1955), '' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'' ...

Richard Brooks
, Alexander Mackendrick,
Luchino Visconti Luchino Visconti di Modrone, Count of Lonate Pozzolo (; 2 November 1906 – 17 March 1976) was an Italian filmmaker, stage director, and screenwriter. A major figure of Italian art and culture in the mid-20th century, Visconti was one of the fat ...
, and
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Michael Winner
.
Roland Kibbee Roland Kibbee (15 February 1914 in Monongahela, Pennsylvania – 5 August 1984 in Encino, California) was an award-winning American screenwriter and producer. He was a frequent collaborator and friend of actor-producer Burt Lancaster. Career ...
wrote for seven Lancaster films. Lancaster used makeup veteran Robert Schiffer in 20 credited films, hiring Schiffer on nearly all of the films he produced.


Political activism

Lancaster was a vocal supporter of progressive and liberalism, liberal political causes. He frequently spoke out in support of racial and other minorities. As a result, he was often a target of FBI investigations. He was named in President Richard Nixon's 1973 "Nixon's Enemies List, Enemies List". A vocal opponent of the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
, he helped pay for the successful defense of a soldier accused of "fragging" (i.e., murdering) another soldier during war-time. In 1968, Lancaster actively supported the presidential candidacy of anti-war Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota, and frequently spoke on his behalf during the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic primaries. He campaigned heavily for George McGovern in the 1972 United States presidential election. In 1985, Lancaster joined the fight against AIDS after fellow movie star Rock Hudson contracted the disease. Lancaster delivered the bed-ridden Hudson's last words at the Commitment to Life fundraiser at a time when the stigma surrounding AIDS was at its height. He was the only major male star who attended. Of his political opinions, frequent co-star
Tony Curtis Tony Curtis (born Bernard Schwartz; June 3, 1925September 29, 2010) was an American actor whose career spanned six decades, achieving the height of his popularity in the 1950s and early 1960s. He acted in more than 100 films in roles covering a ...

Tony Curtis
said: "Here's this great big aggressive guy that looks like a ding-dong athlete playing these big tough guys and he has the soul of—who were those first philosophers of equality?—Socrates, Plato. He was a Greek philosopher with a sense that everybody was equal." Actor and Screen Actors Guild, SAG president Ed Asner said he showed everybody in Hollywood "how to be a liberal with balls".


Hollywood Ten

In 1947, Lancaster reportedly signed a statement release by the National Council of the Arts, Sciences and Professions (NCASP) asking Congress to abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He was also a member of the short-lived Committee for the First Amendment, formed in support of the Hollywood Ten. He was one of 26 movie stars who flew to Washington in October 1947 to protest against the HUAC hearings. The committee's ''Hollywood Fights Back'' broadcasts on ABC Radio Network were two 30-minute programs that took place on October 27 and November 2, 1947, during which committee members voiced their opposition to the HUAC hearings. Many members faced blacklisting and backlash due to their involvement in the committee. Lancaster was listed in anti-communist literature as a fellow traveler.


Civil Rights Movement

He and his second wife, Norma, hosted a fundraiser for Martin Luther King Jr. and the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) ahead of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, March on Washington in 1963. He attended the march, where he was one of the speakers. He flew in from France for the event, where he was shooting '' The Train'', and flew back again the next day, despite a reported fear of flying.


ACLU

In 1968, Lancaster was elected to serve as chairman of the Roger Baldwin Foundation, a newly formed fund-raising arm of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. His co-chairs were Frank Sinatra and Irving L. Lichtenstein. In October 1968, he hosted a party at his home to raise money for the ACLU to use for the defense of the more than four hundred people at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Throughout the years, he remained an ardent supporter and a fundraiser for the organization. While serving as a member of the five-person ACLU Foundation executive committee, he cast the key vote to retain Ramona Ripston as executive director of the Southern California affiliate, a position she would build into a powerful advocacy force in Los Angeles politics. Ripston later recalled: "There was a feeling that a woman couldn't run the ACLU foundation, nor have access to the books. The vote finally came down to two 'yes' and two 'no.' Who had the deciding vote? Burt. He had a scotch or two and finally he said, 'I think she should be executive director.' I always loved him for that." When President George H. W. Bush derided Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis as a “card-carrying member of the ACLU”, Lancaster was one of the supporters featured in the organization's first television advertising campaign stating: "I'm a card-carrying member of the ACLU" and "No one agrees with every single thing they've done. But no one can disagree with the guiding principle—with liberty and justice for all.'" He also campaigned for Michael Dukakis in the 1988 United States presidential election.


Personal life


Marriages and relationships

Lancaster guarded his personal life and attempted to keep it private despite his stardom. He was married three times and had five children. He also attended gay orgies and had gay affairs, according to his family. His first marriage was to June Ernst, a trapeze acrobat. Ernst was the daughter of a renowned female aerialist and an accomplished acrobat herself. After they were married, he performed with her and her family until their separation in the late 1930s. It is not clear when they divorced. Contemporary reports listed 1940, but subsequent biographers have suggested dates as late as 1946, thus delaying his marriage to his second wife.Buford 2008. He met second wife Norma Anderson (1917–1988) when the stenographer substituted for an ill actress in a USO production for the troops in Italy. Reportedly, on seeing Lancaster in the crowd on her way to town from the airport, she turned to an officer and asked, "Who is that good-looking officer and is he married?" The officer set up a blind date between the two for that evening. She was active in political causes with an entire room in their Bel Air home devoted to her major interest, the League of Woman Voters, crammed with printing presses and all the necessary supplies for mass mailings. She was a life-long member of the NAACP. The couple held a fundraiser for Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, SCLC ahead of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, March on Washington. All five of his children were with Anderson: Bill Lancaster, Bill (who became an actor and screenwriter), James, Susan, Joanna (who worked as a film producer), and Sighle (pronounced "Sheila"). However, it was a troubled marriage. The pair separated in 1966, and finally divorced in 1969. In 1966, Lancaster began a long-term relationship with hairdresser Jackie Bone, who worked on '' The Professionals''. She was abusive, with Bone once smashing a wine bottle over Lancaster's head at a dinner with
Sydney Pollack Sydney Irwin Pollack (July 1, 1934 – May 26, 2008) was an American film director, producer and actor. Pollack directed more than 20 films and 10 television shows, acted in over 30 movies or shows and produced over 44 films. For his film ''Out ...

Sydney Pollack
and Peter Falk. Reportedly, they eventually split up after her religious conversion, which Lancaster believed he could not share with her. His third marriage, to Susan Martin, lasted from September 1990 until his death in 1994.


Possible affairs

Friends said he claimed he was romantically involved with
Deborah Kerr Deborah Jane Trimmer Order of the British Empire, CBE (30 September 192116 October 2007), known professionally as Deborah Kerr (), was a British actress. She was nominated six times for the Academy Award for Best Actress, and holds the record f ...

Deborah Kerr
during the filming of ''From Here to Eternity'' in 1953. However, Kerr stated that while there was a spark of attraction, nothing ever happened. He reportedly had an affair with Joan Blondell. In her 1980 autobiography, Shelley Winters claimed to have had a two-year affair with him, during which time he was considering separation from his wife. In his Hollywood memoirs, friend Farley Granger recalled an incident when he and Lancaster had to come to Winters' rescue one evening when she had inadvertently overdosed on alcohol and sleeping pills. She broke up with him for "cheating on her with his wife" after she heard reports of his wife's third or fourth pregnancy. Lancaster and Winters performed together in the 1949 radio play adaptation of The Killers (1946 film), ''The Killers''. They appeared in 2 films together: ''
The Young Savages ''The Young Savages'' is a 1961 American crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definit ...
'', where she played his character's former lover, and '' The Scalphunters''. According to biographer Kate Buford in ''Burt Lancaster: An American Life'', Lancaster was devotedly loyal to his friends and family. Old friends from his childhood remained his friends for life.


Religion

Despite his Protestant background and upbringing, Lancaster identified as an atheist later in life.


Health problems

As Lancaster reached his sixties he began to be affected by cardiovascular disease. In January 1980 he suffered complications from a routine gall bladder operation; and in 1983, following two minor heart attacks, he underwent an emergency quadruple coronary bypass. He continued to act, however, and to engage in public activism. In 1988, he attended a Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., with former colleagues who included James Stewart and Ginger Rogers to protest against media magnate Ted Turner's plan to colorize various black-and-white films from the 1930s and 1940s. On November 30, 1990, when he was 77, a stroke left him partially paralyzed and largely unable to speak, effectively ending his acting career.


Death

Burt Lancaster died at his apartment in Century City, California, after suffering a third heart attack at 4:50 am on October 20, 1994, at the age of 80. His body was cremated, and his ashes were scattered under a large oak tree in Westwood Memorial Park which is located in Westwood Village, California. A small, square ground plaque amidst several others, inscribed "Burt Lancaster 1913–1994", marks the location. As he had previously requested, upon his death no memorial or funeral service was held for him.


Legacy

The centennial of Lancaster's birth was honored at New York City's Film Society of Lincoln Center in May 2013 with the screening of 12 of the actor's best-known films, from ''The Killers'' to ''Atlantic City''. Lancaster has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard.


Filmography and awards


Box office ranking

For a number of years exhibitors voted Lancaster among the most popular stars:


In other media

Spanish music group Hombres G released an album named ''La cagaste, Burt Lancaster'' (''You messed up, Burt Lancaster'') in 1986. Thomas Hart Benton (painter), Thomas Hart Benton painted a scene from ''The Kentuckian'' as part of the film's marketing. Lancaster posed for the painting, also known as ''The Kentuckian (painting), The Kentuckian''.


References


Bibliography

* Andreychuk, Ed. ''Burt Lancaster: A Filmography And Biography''. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2005. . * Buford, Kate. ''Burt Lancaster: An American Life''. London: Aurum Press, 2008. . * Winters, Shelley. ''Shelley: Also known as Shirley''. New York: Morrow, 1980. . * Karney, Robyn. ''Burt Lancaster: A Singular Man''. Trafalgar Square Pub, 1997


External links

* * * * * *
Literature on Burt Lancaster


{{DEFAULTSORT:Lancaster, Burt 1913 births 1994 deaths 20th-century American male actors American film producers American male film actors Activists for African-American civil rights American anti–Vietnam War activists American anti-racism activists United States Army personnel of World War II American people of English descent American people of Irish descent Best Actor Academy Award winners Best Actor BAFTA Award winners Best Drama Actor Golden Globe (film) winners Best Foreign Actor BAFTA Award winners Silver Bear for Best Actor winners Volpi Cup for Best Actor winners Burials at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery California Democrats David di Donatello winners DeWitt Clinton High School alumni Male Western (genre) film actors Military personnel from New York City New York (state) Democrats United States Army personnel People from East Harlem Male actors from New York City People of the New Deal arts projects Activists from New York (state) Activists from California American atheists Norma Productions