By Donald Dewey
For a lot of his theater contemporaries, Lee J. Cobb (1911–1976) used to be the best actor of his new release. In Hollywood he turned the definitive embodiment of gangsters, psychiatrists, and roaring lunatics. From 1939 till his dying, Cobb contributed riveting performances to a couple of motion pictures, together with Boomerang, On the Waterfront, The Brothers Karamazov, 12 offended Men, and The Exorcist. yet for all of his conspicuous achievements in films, Cobb’s identify is such a lot pointed out with the nature Willy Loman within the unique degree construction of Arthur Miller’s Death of a salesperson (1949). Directed by way 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 profession of this flexible performer. From his decrease East facet roots in big apple City—where he used to be born Leo Jacob—to a number of accolades on level 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.” nobody larger epitomized the performer who all at once seems at the reveal and instantly grabs the audience’s recognition. 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 was once additionally via controversy: he seemed earlier than the home Un-American actions Committee within the Fifties and used to be a witness to a movie-set homicide case within the Seventies. via all of it, he by no means misplaced his style for speedy autos and gin rummy. A undergo 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 booklet, Dewey captures the entire drama that surrounded Cobb, either on monitor and off.
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Extra resources for Lee J. Cobb: Characters of an Actor
In 1920 a number of East Coast newspapers subsidized profit evenings for the relaxation of the orphanages round harmonica-playing contests. In Baltimore, the day-by-day sunlight staged a contest during which the winners have been the brothers Larry and Jerry Adler. In manhattan the sponsor was once the day-by-day information, and the winner of that contest used to be the nine-year-old Leo Jacob. Cobb’s harmonica enjoying generated a declare that his first monitor visual appeal in Hollywood got here as in a brief topic on the sunrise of the sound period with Borrah Minevitch and His Harmonica Rascals. if that is so, the quick has proved elusive for affirmation. furthermore, Minevitch’s son-in-law, the overdue actor Warren Stevens, denied it outright. “I labored with Lee a number of occasions, within the motion picture Gorilla at huge and in numerous episodes of The Virginian television sequence. particularly once we did the television indicates, we said loads of issues, yet by no means approximately any brief topic with him and Borrah. Plus my spouse, who knew all there has been to understand approximately her father’s occupation, by no means pointed out something like that. i believe that’s simply one other Hollywood tale that used to be repeated adequate in order that it all started to sound just like the fact. ”6 There have been extra issues within the Jacob kinfolk in the course of Leo’s adolescence, notwithstanding, than the ignored notes of pursuing a musical profession. All instructed, Katie gave beginning to 5 children—a boy born sooner than Leo who died at 3 of appendicitis, one other boy of 5 who died in 1922 after being hit through a truck, and a lady who died in the course of childbirth. Norman used to be born among the road twist of fate and the stillbirth, on December 29, 1922. The deaths of the 3 little ones have been undesirable adequate, yet for Norman they grew to become an obsession whilst he realized of them purely while he used to be twelve years outdated. “I was once ill in mattress and simply occurred to overhear my mom telling this health professional that she had had 5 little ones. i used to be speechless. I were dwelling in the home all these years with out my father, my mom, or Lee announcing something. all of them appeared to imagine they'd to guard me from what all people else, together with the folks in the community, needed to comprehend. It was once fairly traumatizing for me. How do you stroll down the road and view humans a similar method? They’ve been one up on you all these years. ” But, Norman admitted, he went correct besides this system. “No, I by no means introduced it up with any of them. no longer inspite of Lee after our mom and dad have been long past. ” as a substitute, the “trauma” grew right into a sullenness of addictive proportions in Norman’s later years, and used to be occasionally sprinkled with an open resentment that his mom and dad preferred their first-born over him. “He was once a gentle of their world,” Norman stated feeling, especially while he grew to become an actor and have become whatever of a guy of the area. yet even ahead of then he might do issues round the residence my parents couldn’t recover from. for example, we had a kind of massive cumbersome radios that have been fairly furnishings. My father was once overwhelmed while it broke down, yet then Lee, who used to be continually nice along with his fingers, fastened it, and my father didn’t enable anyone overlook it for a very long time.