Burt Lancaster was a performer, producer, gymnast and iconoclast, and, from his earliest beginnings, always a star.
He earned an athletic scholarship to New York University but by the middle of his sophomore year he quit to join the circus, eventually working his way up to a tour with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.
An injury, however, led him to look for other work. He was a floorwalker in the lingerie department of the Marshall Field store in Chicago, a salesman in the same store's haberdashery department, a firefighter, a truck driver and an engineer for a meatpacking plant.
He was drafted for WWII and met USO entertainer Norma Anderson, whom he later married, while serving. That connection led to his film career
Lancaster proved a bona fide star from his first screen appearance in "The Killers" in 1946 until a few years before his death in 1994.
Lancaster's work in such major dramatic productions as "Come Back Little Sheba," "From Here to Eternity," "Judgment at Nuremberg," "The Rainmaker," "Seven Days in May" and "Atlantic City" tended to overshadow his work in such films as "Trapeze," "The Flame and the Arrow" and "The Crimson Pirate," which displayed the lighter side of his nature.
The Academy Award he won for "Elmer Gantry" in 1960 and the Venice Film Festival award he received two years later for "The Birdman of Alcatraz" were remembered. But many forgot the earlier Oscar he had shared with Harold Hecht as co-producer of "Marty," which was voted best picture of 1955.
Friday, March 19, 2010
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