Academy Award-winning actor Alan Arkin has passed away at the age of 89.
Arkin’s sons Adam, Matthew and Anthony said in a joint statement, “Our father was a uniquely talented force of nature, both as an artist and a man. A loving husband, father, grand and great grandfather, he was adored and will be deeply missed.”
Arkin died on June 29 at his home in Carlsbad, Calif, Variety confirmed.
Born Alan Wolf Arkin on March 26, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York, his family were Jewish emigrants from Russia and Germany. In 1946, the Arkins moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, California.
He formed the folk music group The Tarriers, in which Arkin was the lead singer and played guitar. He co-wrote the 1956 hit “The Banana Boat Song” – a Jamaican calypso folk song, which became better known as Harry Belafonte‘s popular version, and reached #4 on the Billboard chart.
In 1957 Arkin made his first big screen appearance as a lead singer with The Tarriers in Calypso Heat Wave (1957). Then he made his Off-Broadway debut as a singer in “Heloise” (1958). Next year he joined the Compass Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri. There he caught the eye of stage director Bob Sills and became the original member of the “Second City” troupe in Chicago. In 1961 Arkin made his Broadway debut in musical “From the Second City”, for which he wrote lyrics and sketches, then starred as David Kolowitz in the Broadway comedy “Enter Laughing” (1963), for which he won a Tony Award. He starred in a Broadway musical “From the Second City production, then returned to Broadway as Harry Berlin in “Luv” (1964). Arkin made his directorial debut with an Off-Broadway hit called “Eh?” (1966), which introduced the young actor, named Dustin Hoffman. He won a Drama Desk Award for his direction of the Off-Broadway production of “Little Murders” (1969), and another Drama Desk Award for “The White House Murder Case” (1970). He also directed the original version of Neil Simon‘s hilarious smash, “The Sunshine Boys” (1972), which ran over 500 performances.*
Arkin earned his first Academy Award nomination as Best Actor for his feature acting debut in a comedy The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming (1966), by director Norman Jewison, co-starring as Lt. Rozanov, a Soviet submariner who is mistaken for a spy after his boat accidentally wrecks aground in New England. Arkin demonstrated his dramatic range as the psychopathic killer Roat in suspense film Wait Until Dark (1967), opposite Audrey Hepburn. He reinvented himself as the sensitive deaf-mute in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968), for which he received his second Academy Award Nomination as Best Actor in the Leading role. He followed with what remained his best known role as Captain Yossarian in Catch-22 (1970), directed by Mike Nichols and based on the eponymous anti-war novel by Joseph Heller. In it Arkin arguably gave his strongest performance, however, his career suffered because the film initially did not live up to expectations. After a few years of directorial work on television, Arkin made a comeback with an impressive portrayal of doctor Sigmund Freud in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976). In the early 1980s he acted in three movies that were family affairs, written by his wife, Barbara Dana, and co-starring his son, Adam Arkin.*
During the 1990s he turned out several notable performances, such as a bitter former baseball player in TNT’s Cooperstown (1993), and as a hilarious psychiatrist opposite John Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank (1997). He won raves for his portrayal of a divorced father who struggles to keep his kids enrolled in the Beverly Hills school system in Slums of Beverly Hills (1998). Arkin gave a brilliant performance opposite Robin Williams in Jakob the Liar (1999), a film about the Nazi occupation of Poland. He also returned to the New York stage co-starring with his son, Tony Arkin and Elaine May in “Power Plays”, which he also co-authored. His most recent comeback as a heroin-snorting, sex-crazed, foul-mouthed grandfather in Little Miss Sunshine (2006), earned him his third Academy Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, and his first Academy Award.*
In more recent years, Arkin starred in Going In Style, The Kominsky Method, Spenser Confidential and more.
*Based on Arkin’s IMDB Bio written by Steve Shelokhonov and Hup234!