Known for movies

Short Info

Date Of BirthAugust 28, 1930
DiedFebruary 3, 2012, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States
SpouseElke Stuckmann, Janice Rule, Louise Erickson
MarkSmooth demeanor
FactLived with Elaine Stritch for two years.
PaymentsEarned $7,500 /week from Arrest and Trial (1963)

Ben Gazzara was born Biagio Anthony Gazzara on August 28, 1930, in New York City. His parents, Angela (née Mazza) and Antonio Gazzara, were both immigrants from Sicily. His father was a tailor and his mother was a homemaker. He had two older sisters, Josephine and Carmela.

Gazzara’s father died when he was nine years old and his mother died when he was 16. As a result, he was raised by his maternal grandparents, who were both Italian immigrants. He attended New York’s High School of Music and Art, where he studied acting.

After graduation, Gazzara worked as a messenger for the United Nations and as an usher at Radio City Music Hall. He also worked as a model for the John Robert Powers modeling agency.

In 1953, Gazzara made his Broadway debut in the play “The Time of Your Life”. He then appeared in several other Broadway plays, including “A Hatful of Rain” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”.

In 1957, Gazzara made his film debut in the film “The Strange One”. He then went on to appear in several other films, including “Anatomy of a Murder”, “Husbands”, “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie” and “Capone”.

In the 1980s, Gazzara appeared in several television movies, including “The Gangster Chronicles” and “Hollywood Wives”. He also appeared in the miniseries “The Thorn Birds” and “Lace”.

In the 1990s, Gazzara appeared in the films “The Big Lebowski”, “Buffalo ’66” and “Road to Perdition”. He also appeared in the television series “Law & Order” and “NYPD Blue”.

Gazzara’s last film appearance was in the film “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” (1987).

Gazzara was married three times. His first wife was actress Louise Erickson, with whom he had two daughters, Elizabeth and Kathryn. His second wife was actress Janice Rule, with whom he had one son, Antonio. His third wife was actress Talia Balsam, with whom he had one daughter, Allegra.

Gazzara died on February 3, 2012, at the age of 81.

General Info

Full NameBen Gazzara
Date Of BirthAugust 28, 1930
DiedFebruary 3, 2012, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States
Place Of BirthManhattan, New York City, New York, United States
Height1.79 m
ProfessionActor, Television Director
EducationThe New School, City College of New York, Stuyvesant High School, Actors Studio


SpouseElke Stuckmann, Janice Rule, Louise Erickson
ChildrenElizabeth Gazzara, Danja Gazzara
ParentsAntonio Gazzarra, Angelina Cusumano
SiblingsAnthony Gazzara


AwardsPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie, National Board of Review Award for Best Cast, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance
NominationsPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie, Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a Play, Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star - Male, David di Donatello for Best Actor, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance...
MoviesAnatomy of a Murder, Road House, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, The Big Lebowski, Husbands, Opening Night, Buffalo '66, They All Laughed, Dogville, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Strange One, The Spanish Prisoner, Summer of Sam, Bloodline, Tales of Ordinary Madness, The Bridge at Remagen, Saint Jack...
TV ShowsL'onore e il rispetto, Pope John Paul II, QB VII, Run for Your Life, Arrest and Trial, People Like Us

Social profile links


#Marks / Signs
1Smooth demeanor
2Often played characters whose charming veneer masked inner turmoil or even anguish


Arrest and Trial (1963)$7,500 /week


1[on John Cassavetes as a director] He set the climate for an actor to feel free to give whatever, and if it didn't work, it didn't work.
2[1988] When I became hot, so to speak, in the theater, I got a lot of offers. I won't tell you the pictures I turned down because they would say, 'You are a fool.' And I was a fool.
3[on battling depression while filming They All Laughed (1981)] I was in a depression during the whole shooting, and I was terrific in that film and I don't remember doing it.
4(on making movies in Italy) You go where they love you.
5[In 2009] I would say Husbands (1970) and Saint Jack (1979) and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) are my three favorite films, of my work.
6[In 2009] Run for Your Life (1965), that came at a period where things were very slow in the movie world for me. So I had to pay the rent, and the offer was good, but it was before the big, big money in television, 1965. And that was hard work, I gotta tell you. You know we made 30 one-hour shows a year? I was in every scene, morning, noon and night. It was really tiresome, I gotta tell you. Hard, hard. Ran for three years, and we made 80, 85 shows.
7[In 2009, on making Anatomy of a Murder (1959)] There, I had a wonderful time. I got to work with my first movie star, James Stewart, a star that I grew up trying to imitate as a kid. And there I was acting with him in the same scene. I was so really overjoyed to be doing that, and proud. And then he liked me, which made me even prouder. He invited me to dinner, mano-a-mano, more than once, and I really appreciated that. He took an interest in me, and I watched him work. I watched how hard he worked, how he never schmoozed. He was never around between takes; he was in a room working with his assistant on the scene that was going to be shot next. Never wasting a moment's time. A real lesson in discipline . . . But I must say, though, he had a great deal of dialogue in the picture, playing a lawyer, and I think that was probably part of the reason he took to another room to go over his lines.
8[on filming Looking for Palladin (2008) in Antigua, Guatemala] The city of Antigua is so beautiful and charming, filled with history, and I had a wonderful time down there. I played a character I liked to play, and lived a life I liked. One of the pleasures of being an actor is that it takes you places you wouldn't ordinarily go, and you don't enter as a tourist, you really enter the life of the place and get to know it.
9[2009, on filming Buffalo '66 (1998)] I think Vincent Gallo did a wonderful job, and it was a personal story for him. It was about him, actually; him and his mother and father. And the work was enjoyable. I enjoyed Anjelica Huston, and I had never been to Buffalo before, so I was able to see a part of America that I probably never would have gotten to if I weren't an actor.
10{in 2009, on The Big Lebowski (1998)] "The Big Lebowski" was the oddest thing. They called me, and there was really no part. I mean, it's a little part, but they go and say "Look, Sam Elliot is doing this, and this guy's doing that, and that guy's doing this". I said, "Well, let me read it". And I read it, and I couldn't stop laughing. I said, "I gotta be a part of it. This is too funny". So I had a lot of fun doing it. It took me a couple of days. I flew there and I was back in New York in three days.
11[In 2009, on filming Dogville (2003)] I was told before I went there, "Hey, Lars von Trier, he's tough with actors". Not at all. I really got along with him famously, and had a great time, a great time. Nicole Kidman was there at her best; she was terrific. The whole cast was terrific. And it was an interesting experiment, because he shot it in digital, and was able to load the camera with an hour's worth of film, so you weren't reloading every 10 minutes. And he was running . . . well, we shot it all indoors in a studio, you know, and the whole set was in one, without walls around anything, so he was able to run back and forth, up and down, shooting. You gotta be on your guard with his camera. It was very, very interesting to work on it. Much like theater, because you were not interrupted. You can go on and on and on, and of course it was on a stage; it took place in one space. In that regard, it was very much like theater.
12[In 2009, on Road House (1989)] I had fun making that picture. Patrick Swayze was very nice, a very sweet boy. He was a boy then, actually. Well, a young man. And just tasting the fruits of newly-found stardom. And I remember he was very nervous about it, very apprehensive. He cared a lot, and he was very tense about doing a good job. And so we'd talk and walk, and walk and talk. I liked him, and we liked each other.
13[on Audrey Hepburn] She was unhappy in her marriage and hurting; I was unhappy in my marriage and hurting and we came together and we gave solace to each other and we fell in love but it was impossible. She had a life in Europe and Switzerland and where you will. I'm in L.A. with another life. Life got in the way of romance. We were having a drink in Munich, where we were shooting a picture called Bloodline (1979) and she told me, "Do you know, Ben, I never thought I was a good actress". She was so self-effacing and that's why, on the screen, she was so genuine because what you saw on the screen you saw in life--that smile and the way she lit up a room. She just had it.
14I turned down so many movies because I was idealistic. I was so pure. I didn't really take advantage of the opportunities. If I had the same chances today I would take them all because you never know where it will lead.


1Smoked 4 packs of cigarettes a day until he switched to cigars.
2Release of his autobiography, "In the Moment: My Life as an Actor". [2000]
3Appearing on Broadway in a revival of Clifford Odets' "Awake and Sing". [April 2006]
4He and his Road House costar Patrick Swayze both died from pancreatic cancer. Swayze in 2009, and Gazzara in 2012.
5He caught the acting bug when he was 11 years old and watched one of his friends act in a play at the Madison Square Boys Club.
6He was born on the East Side of Manhattan in New York City to Antonio Gazzara and Angela Cusumano Gazzara, both Italian immigrants. They often spoke Italian at home. He grew up in a building at 29th Street and 1st Avenue, where he slept on the fire escape in summer and occasionally heard screams from the patients at the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York City.
7He met radio actress, Louise Erickson, who would be his first wife. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1957. In 1961, he married actress Janice Rule and had a daughter, Elizabeth Gazzara. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1982. He met Elke Stuckmann in 1979 and married her in 1982.
8He is survived by his daughter, Elizabeth Gazzara, from his second marriage to Janice Rule; his third wife, Elke Stuckmann (married since 1982); his adopted daughter, Danja Gazzara, from Elke's previous marriage; and brother, Anthony Gazzara.
9In the 1980s, he had a village in Umbria, Italy, where he spent time in Italian films.
10He studied drama at the Dramatic Workshop in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. He studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York City in 1951.
11Died on the anniversary of the death of his close friend John Cassavetes, on February 3, 2012.
12Diagnosed with throat cancer in 1999. He lost more than 40 pounds during treatment.
13Shared a "purist's" approach to acting and choosing roles with Road House (1989) co-star Sam Elliott.
14Attended NYC's famed Stuyvesant High School.
15He and his good friend John Cassavetes made 5 movies together: Husbands (1970), Capone (1975), If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969), Opening Night (1977) and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)
16Lived with Elaine Stritch for two years.
17Claimed that of all of the movies in which he has ever appeared in, Road House (1989) is the most frequently repeated on television.
18Father, with Janice Rule, of Elizabeth Gazzara.




People Like Us1990TV MovieGus Bailey
Road House1989Brad Wesley
Don Bosco1988Don Bosco
Quicker Than the Eye1988Ben Norrell
Downpayment on Murder1987TV MovieHarry Cardell
Police Story: The Freeway Killings1987TV MovieCapt. Tom Wright
Il giorno prima1987Mike Zella
Champagne amer1986Paul Rivière
Il camorrista1986Il Professore
Woman of Wonders1985Alberto
A Letter to Three Wives1985TV MoviePorter Holloway
An Early Frost1985TV MovieNick Pierson
Figlio mio, infinitamente caro...1985Avv. Antonio Morelli
Uno scandalo perbene1984The man with no memory
La ragazza di Trieste1982Dino Romani
A Question of Honor1982TV MovieDetective Joe DeFalco
Storie di ordinaria follia1981Charles Serking
They All Laughed1981John Russo
Inchon1981Maj. Frank Hallsworth
Bloodline1979Rhys Williams
Saint Jack1979Jack Flowers
Opening Night1977Manny Victor
The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald1977TV MovieAnson 'Kip' Roberts
The Death of Richie1977TV MovieGeorge Werner
Voyage of the Damned1976Morris Troper
High Velocity1976Clifford Baumgartner
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie1976Cosmo Vittelli
Capone1975Al Capone
The American Parade1974TV Mini-SeriesNarrator
QB VII1974TV Mini-SeriesAbe Cady
Maneater1973TV MovieNick Baron
The Neptune Factor1973Cmdr. Adrian Blake
You'll Never See Me Again1973TV Movie
Afyon oppio1972Giuseppe 'Joe' Coppola
Pursuit1972TV MovieSteven Graves
The Family Rico1972TV MovieEddie Rico
Fireball Forward1972TV MovieMaj. Gen. Joe Barrett
When Michael Calls1972TV MovieDoremus Connelly
The Bridge at Remagen1969Sgt. Angelo
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium1969Card Player
Run for Your Life1965-1968TV SeriesPaul Bryan
The Jerry Lewis Show1967TV SeriesSinger
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre1967TV SeriesSidney
A Rage to Live1965Roger Bannon
Kraft Suspense Theatre1965TV SeriesPaul Bryan
A Carol for Another Christmas1964TV MovieFred
Arrest and Trial1963-1964TV SeriesDet. Sgt. Nick Anderson
Conquered City1962Capt. George Stubbs
Convicts 41962John Resko
The Young Doctors1961Dr. David Coleman
Cry Vengeance!1961TV MovieDavidde
Risate di gioia1960Lello
The DuPont Show of the Month1959TV SeriesCarlos Perez
Armchair Theatre1959TV SeriesJim Mason
Anatomy of a Murder1959Lt. Frederick Manion
Kraft Theatre1952-1958TV SeriesMoony - Story #3
Playhouse 901957-1958TV SeriesM. Paul / Stanley Carr
The Strange One1957Jocko De Paris
Justice1954TV Series
The United States Steel Hour1954TV SeriesRichard Elgin Jr.
Danger1952-1954TV Series
Medallion Theatre1954TV Series
Treasury Men in Action1952-1953TV SeriesBowman
Chez Gino2011Oncle Giovanni
Christopher Roth2010Paul Andersen
Holy Money2009Vatican's Banker
Empire State Building Murders2008TV MoviePaulie Genovese
Looking for Palladin2008Jack Palladin
Donne sbagliate2007TV MovieFranco Maresco
And Quiet Flows the Don2006TV SeriesGen. Secretov
L'onore e il rispetto2006TV Mini-SeriesFred Di Venanzio
Paris, je t'aime2006Ben (segment "Quartier Latin")
The Shore2005Mr. Bob Harris
Pope John Paul II2005TV Mini-SeriesCardinal Agostino Casaroli
Schubert2005Don José
Bonjour Michel2005Michele Terranova
Dogville2003Jack McKay
L'ospite segreto2003Solomos
Hysterical Blindness2002TV MovieNick
Brian's Song2001TV MovieCoach Halas
Home Sweet Hoboken2001
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit2001TV SeriesExecutive Assistant Attorney
Jack of Hearts2000Bartossa
Nella terra di nessuno2000L'avvocato Scalzi
Piovuto dal cielo2000TV MovieCesare Palmieri
The List2000D.A. Bernard Salman
Undertaker's Paradise2000Jim
Shark in a Bottle2000The Arranger
Very Mean Men2000Gino Minetti
Un bacio nel buio2000TV Movie
Believe2000/IEllicott Winslowe
Blue Moon2000Frank Cavallo
Poor Liza2000The Narrator
Paradise Cove1999Duke Mantee
The Thomas Crown Affair1999Andrew Wallace
Summer of Sam1999Luigi
Tre stelle1999TV MovieCol. Marshall
Il tesoro di Damasco1998TV MovieGregorio Kos
Angelo nero1998TV MoviePadre Guelfi
Illuminata1998Old Flavio
Happiness1998Lenny Jordan
The Big Lebowski1998Jackie Treehorn
Buffalo '661998Jimmy Brown
Too Tired to Die1998John Sage
Protector1998VideoJoe Buddha
The Notorious 71997TV MovieDom Diablo
Vicious Circles1997March
The Spanish Prisoner1997Mr. Klein
Stag1997Frank Grieco
Shadow Conspiracy1997Vice President Saxon
Farmer & Chase1997Farmer
Una donna in fuga1996TV Movie
Ladykiller1996Lt. Jack 'Jigsaw' Lasky
Strangers1996TV SeriesStasi
The Zone1995Dick Althorp
Nefertiti, figlia del sole1995Amanophis III
Convict Cowboy1995TV MovieWarden
Les hirondelles ne meurent pas1994Moshe
Sherwood's Travels1994Raphael de Pietro
Fatal Vows: The Alexandra O'Hara Story1994TV MoviePapa
Parallel Lives1994TV MovieCharlie Duke
Cycle Simenon1993TV SeriesJohn
Love, Honor & Obey: The Last Mafia Marriage1993TV MovieJoseph Bonanno
Blindsided1993TV MovieIra Gold
Per sempre1991Marcello Rondi
Lies Before Kisses1991TV MovieGrant Sanders
Beyond the Ocean1990


Beyond the Ocean1990
Columbo1974-1975TV Series 2 episodes
The Name of the Game1971TV Series 1 episode
Run for Your Life1967-1968TV Series 5 episodes


Storie di ordinaria follia1981performer: "Rock-a-bye-baby" - uncredited
Husbands1970performer: "Show Me the Way to Go Home" 1925, "Dancing in the Dark" 1931 - uncredited


Beyond the Ocean1990


The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards2012TV Special in memory of
Edición Especial Coleccionista2012TV Series in memory of - 1 episode
Paris, je t'aime2006personal thanks
Dogville Confessions2003Documentary thanks
King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis1970Documentary particular thanks for contributing their talents


Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age2016Documentary post-productionHimself
Greenwich Village: A World Apart2015Documentary shortHimself
One Day Since Yesterday: Peter Bogdanovich & the Lost American Film2014DocumentaryHimself
Giuseppe Tornatore: Ogni film un'opera prima2012DocumentaryHimself
Ben Gazzara Remembers the Strange One2009Video documentary shortHimself / Jocko De Paris
Chabad: To Life Telethon2008TV MovieHimself
AFI's 10 Top 10: America's 10 Greatest Films in 10 Classic Genres2008TV MovieHimself
Beyond Wiseguys: Italian Americans & the Movies2008DocumentaryHimself
Buenafuente2005TV SeriesHimself - Guest
El Magacine2005TV SeriesHimself
Premio Donostia a Ben Gazzara2005TV SpecialHimself - Honoree
The Tony Danza Show2005TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Charlie Rose1998-2004TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Dogville Confessions2003DocumentaryHimself
Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There2003DocumentaryHimself
¿Quién es Alejandro Chomski?2002DocumentaryHimself
Cassavetes: Claroscuro americano2001TV Movie documentaryHimself
A Constant Forge2000DocumentaryHimself
Marilyn in Manhattan1998TV MovieHimself
Mundo VIP1996TV SeriesHimself
Howard Stern1996TV SeriesHimself - Guest
John Cassavetes: To Risk Everything to Express It All1996DocumentaryHimself
A Film és... I.-XIV1995TV Series documentaryHimself (1995)
Paleoworld1994TV Series documentaryNarrator
Anything for John1993TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Annual Daily Variety Honors. A Salutes to Army Archerd1993TV MovieHimself
Bon dia, Catalunya1993TV SeriesHimself - Guest
La parada1990TV SeriesHimself - Guest
Du côté de chez Fred1988TV SeriesHimself
The 38th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards1986TV SpecialHimself - Nominee for Outstanding Lead Actor in Mini Series or Special
Cinéma cinémas1985TV Series documentaryHimself
Night of 100 Stars II1985TV MovieHimself
The 35th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards1983TV SpecialHimself - Presenter
Droit de réponse: l'esprit de contradiction1982TV SeriesHimself
The Mike Douglas Show1974-1978TV SeriesHimself - Actor / Himself - Guest
The 35th Annual Golden Globe Awards1978TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Paul Ryan Show1977TV SeriesHimself
Dinah!1975-1977TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The Annual Theatre World Awards1976TV SpecialHimself - Presenter
The 29th Annual Tony Awards1975TV SpecialHimself
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson1965-1973TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The Dick Cavett Show1970TV SeriesHimself - Guest
King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis1970DocumentaryHimself
The Joe Namath Show1969TV SeriesHimself
The Joey Bishop Show1967-1969TV SeriesHimself
The David Frost Show1969TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The 40th Annual Academy Awards1968TV SpecialHimself - Audience Member
The Merv Griffin Show1967TV SeriesHimself
Today1966TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The Jack Paar Tonight Show1962TV SeriesHimself
Here's Hollywood1962TV SeriesHimself
What's My Line?1959-1961TV SeriesHimself - Guest Panelist / Himself - Mystery Guest
I've Got a Secret1959TV SeriesHimself - Guest
A.N.T.A. Album of 19551955TV MovieHimself

Archive Footage

19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards2013TV SpecialHimself - In Memoriam
Love, Marilyn2012DocumentaryHimself
Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the '70s2012DocumentaryHimself
The 84th Annual Academy Awards2012TV SpecialHimself - Memorial Tribute
The Orange British Academy Film Awards2012TV SpecialHimself - Memorial Tribute
Días de cine2012TV SeriesHimself
Strictly Courtroom2008TV Movie documentaryLt. Frederick Manion (uncredited)
Premio Donostia a Matt Dillon2006TV SpecialHimself
Premio Donostia a Max Von Sydow2006TV SpecialHimself
San Sebastián 2005: Crónica de Carlos Boyero2005TV MovieHimself
Ceremonia de clausura2005TV MovieHimself
Ceremonia de apertura2005TV Movie
Hollywood Mavericks1990DocumentaryJohn Russo
AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to James Stewart1980TV Special documentaryLt. Frederick Manion (uncredited)


Won Awards

2005Donostia Lifetime Achievement AwardSan Sebastián International Film Festival
2003Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieHysterical Blindness (2002)
2001German Independence Honorary AwardOldenburg Film Festival
2000Golden Eagle AwardMarco Island Film Festival
1998NBR AwardNational Board of Review, USABest Acting by an EnsembleHappiness (1998)
1993Career AwardFlaiano International PrizesCinema
1989François Truffaut AwardGiffoni Film Festival

Nominated Awards

1990Razzie AwardRazzie AwardsWorst Supporting ActorRoad House (1989)
1986Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a SpecialAn Early Frost (1985)
1985DavidDavid di Donatello AwardsBest Actor (Migliore Attore Protagonista)Uno scandalo perbene (1984)
1983Razzie AwardRazzie AwardsWorst Supporting ActorInchon (1981)
1968Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest TV Star - MaleRun for Your Life (1965)
1968Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic SeriesRun for Your Life (1965)
1967Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest TV Star - MaleRun for Your Life (1965)
1967Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic SeriesRun for Your Life (1965)
1966Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest TV Star - MaleRun for Your Life (1965)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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