Palance in 1953
February 18, 1919
Hazleton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||November 10, 2006
Montecito, California, U.S.
|Residence||Tehachapi, California, U.S.|
|Other names||Jack Brazzo
Walter J. Palance
Walter Jack Palance
|Spouse(s)||Virginia Baker (m. 1949; div. 1968)
Elaine Rogers (m. 1987)
|Children||3, including Holly Palance|
Jack Palance (born Volodymyr Palahniuk; February 18, 1919 – November 10, 2006) was an American actor and singer. He was nominated for three Academy Awards, all for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, winning in 1992 for his role in City Slickers.
Palance was born in Lattimer Mines, Pennsylvania, the son of Anna (née Gramiak) and Ivan Palahniuk, an anthracite coal miner. His parents were Ukrainian immigrants, his father a native of Ivane Zolote in southwestern Ukraine (modern Ternopil Oblast) and his mother from the Lviv Oblast, an ethnic Pole. One of six children, he worked in coal mines during his youth before becoming a professional boxer in the late 1930s.
Fighting under the name Jack Brazzo, Palance reportedly compiled a record of 15 consecutive victories with 12 knockouts before losing a close decision to future heavyweight contender Joe Baksi in a Pier-6 brawl. Years later he recounted: "Then, I thought, you must be nuts to get your head beat in for $200."
With the outbreak of World War II, Palance's athletic career ended, and his military career began as a member of the United States Army Air Forces. Palance's face, which took many beatings in the boxing ring, was said to have become disfigured while bailing out of a burning B-24 Liberator bomber during a training flight over Southern Arizona (where Palance was a student pilot). His distinctive cheekbones and deep-set eyes were said to have been the result of reconstructive surgery. The story behind Palance's face was repeated numerous times (including in respected film reference works), but upon his death, several obituaries of Palance quoted him as saying that the entire story had been contrived: "Studio press agents make up anything they want to, and reporters go along with it. One flack created the legend that I had been blown up in an air crash during the war, and my face had to be put back together by way of plastic surgery. If it is a 'bionic face', why didn't they do a better job of it?"
Palance was honorably discharged from the Army Air Corps in 1944. After the war, he attended Stanford University, leaving one credit shy of graduating to pursue a career in the theatre  During his university years, he worked as a short order cook, waiter, soda jerk, lifeguard at Jones Beach State Park, and photographer's model. His last name was actually a derivative of his original name. In an episode of What's My Line?, he described how no one could pronounce his last name and it was suggested he be called Palanski. From that he decided to just use Palance instead.
In 1947, Palance made his Broadway debut. He debuted on television in 1949, and this was followed a year later by his screen debut in the movie Panic in the Streets (1950). The same year he was featured in Halls of Montezuma about the United States Marines in World War II, where he was credited as "Walter (Jack) Palance". Palance was quickly recognized for his skill as a character actor, receiving an Oscar nomination for his third film role as Lester Blaine in Sudden Fear.
The following year, Palance was nominated for an Oscar for his role as the hired gunfighter Jack Wilson in Shane. Several Western roles followed, but he also played varied roles such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula and Attila the Hun. Three years before Palance played the role, comic book artist Gene Colan based his interpretation of Dracula for the acclaimed series The Tomb of Dracula on Palance, explaining, "He had that cadaverous look, a serpentine look on his face. I knew that Jack Palance would do the perfect Dracula."
He became a Hollywood leading man, starring in Man in the Attic, followed by mid-1950s films such as The Big Knife, in which he played a conflicted Hollywood movie star, and I Died a Thousand Times, a scene-by-scene remake of High Sierra (1941) with Palance in the role played previously by Humphrey Bogart.
Jean-Luc Godard persuaded Palance to take on the role of Hollywood producer Jeremy Prokosch in the nouvelle vague movie Le Mépris (1963). Although the main dialogue was in French, Palance spoke mostly English.
Later, in 1966, he appeared in the television movie Alice Through the Looking Glass, directed by Alan Handley, in which he played the Jabberwock. He had a featured role opposite Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster in the Western adventure The Professionals (1966).
In 1969, Palance recorded a country music album in Nashville, released on Warner Bros. Records. It featured Palance's self-penned song "The Meanest Guy That Ever Lived". The album was re-released on CD in 2003 by the Water label (Water 119).
In 1980, Jack Palance narrated Canadian filmmaker Halya Kuchmij’s documentary The Strongest Man in the World, about Mike Swistun, a circus strongman who had been a student of Houdini’s. Palance attended the premiere of the film on June 6, 1980 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
In 1982, Palance began hosting a television revival of Ripley's Believe It or Not!. The weekly series ran from 1982 to 1986 on the American ABC network. The series also starred three different co-hosts from season to season, including Palance's daughter Holly Palance, actress Catherine Shirriff and singer Marie Osmond. Ripley's Believe It or Not! was in rerun syndication on the Sci-fi Channel (UK) and Sci-fi Channel (US) during the 1990s.
Palance's success on Ripley's Believe It or Not! resulted in a demand for his services. He made memorable appearances in Young Guns (1988), Tango & Cash (1989) and Tim Burton's Batman (1989). He also performed on Roger Waters' first solo album release The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking (1984).
Palance, at the time chairman of the Hollywood Trident Foundation, walked out of a Russian Film Festival in Hollywood in 2004. After being introduced, Palance said, "I feel like I walked into the wrong room by mistake. I think that Russian film is interesting, but I have nothing to do with Russia or Russian film. My parents were born in Ukraine: I'm Ukrainian. I'm not Russian. So, excuse me, but I don't belong here. It's best if we leave." Palance was awarded the title of "People's Artist" by Vladimir Putin, president of Russia; however, Palance refused the title.
In 2002, he starred in the television movie Living with the Dead opposite Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Diane Ladd. In 2004, he starred in another television production, Back When We Were Grownups, opposite Blythe Danner. This was his final performance.
Four decades after his film debut, Palance won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor on March 30, 1992 for his performance as cowboy Curly Washburn in the comedy City Slickers (1991). Stepping onstage to accept the award, the 6' 4" (1.93 m) actor looked down at 5' 7" (1.70 m) Oscar host Billy Crystal (who was also his co-star in the movie), and joked, mimicking one of his lines from the film, "Billy Crystal... I crap bigger than him." He then dropped to the floor and demonstrated his ability, at age 73, to perform one-handed push-ups.
Years later, Crystal appeared on Inside the Actors Studio and fondly recalled that, after the Oscar ceremony, Palance approached him during the reception: "He stopped me and put his arms out and went, 'Billy Crystal, who thought it would be you?' It was his really funny way of saying thank you to a little New York Jewy guy who got him the Oscars."
In 1993, during the opening of the Oscars, a spoof of that Oscar highlight featured Palance appearing to drag in an enormous Academy Award statuette with Crystal again hosting, riding on the rear end of it. Halfway across the stage, Palance dropped to the ground as if exhausted, but then performed several one-armed push-ups before regaining his feet and dragging the giant Oscar the rest of the way across the stage.
Palance lived for several years around Tehachapi, California.
Palance was married to his first wife Virginia Baker from 1949 to 1968. They had three children: Holly (born 1950), Brooke (born 1952), and Cody (1955–1998). On New Year's Day 2003, Baker was struck and killed by a car in Los Angeles.
Palance's daughter Brooke married Michael Wilding, son of Michael Wilding Sr. (1912–1979) and Elizabeth Taylor; they have three children. Cody Palance, an actor himself, appeared alongside his father in the film Young Guns.
In May 1987, Palance married his second wife Elaine Rogers.
Palance painted and sold landscape art, with a poem included on the back of each picture. He was also the author of The Forest of Love, a book of poems published in 1996 by Summerhouse Press. He was a supporter of the Republican Party.
Palance acknowledged a lifelong attachment to his Pennsylvania heritage and visited there when able. Shortly before his death, he sold his farm in Butler Township and put his personal art collection up for auction.
Palance has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6608 Hollywood Boulevard.
|1950||Panic in the Streets|
|Halls of Montezuma|
|1952||Sudden Fear||Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1953||Shane||Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|Man in the Attic|
|Flight to Tangier|
|1954||The Silver Chalice|
|Sign of the Pagan||as Attila the Hun|
|1955||The Big Knife|
|I Died a Thousand Times|
|Kiss of Fire|
|Playhouse 90: Requiem for a Heavyweight||(TV)|
|1957||House of Numbers|
|1957||The Lonely Man|
|1958||The Man Inside|
|1959||Flor De Mayo|
|1959||Ten Seconds to Hell|
|1961||Sword of the Conqueror|
|1962||Night Train to Milan|
|1965||Once a Thief|
|1966||Alice Through the Looking Glass|
|1967||Kill a Dragon|
|1968||The Mercenary||as Curly|
|Legion of the Damned|
|The Desperados||as Parson Josiah Galt|
|Che!||as Fidel Castro|
|It Can Be Done Amigo|
|1973||Father Jackleg (Originally Tedeum)|
|1975||The Great Adventure|
|The Four Deuces|
|Blood and Bullets|
|The Cop in Blue Jeans|
|Black Cobra Woman|
|1977||Portrait of a Hitman|
|Welcome to Blood City|
|1978||The One Man Jury|
|Cocaine Cowboys||lead role|
|1980||Hawk the Slayer||(as Voltan)|
|1989||Batman||as Carl Grissom|
|Outlaw of Gor|
|Tango & Cash|
|1991||City Slickers||Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
|1994||City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold|
|The Swan Princess||voice|
|Cops & Robbersons|
|1999||Treasure Island||(as Long John Silver)|
|2002||Talking to Heaven|
|2003||Between Hitler and Stalin||narrator|
|1968||Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde||Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde|
|1973||Bram Stoker's Dracula||Count Dracula|
|1975||The Hatfields and the McCoys||Devil Anse Hatfield|
|1979||The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang||Will Smith|
|1980||The Ivory Ape||Marc Kazarian|
|The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story||Whitey Robinson|
|1981||Evil Stalks This House||Stokes|
|1992||Keep the Change||Overstreet|
|1994||The Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's Lost Classics||Dr. Jeremy Wheaton (segment "Where the Dead Are")|
|1995||Buffalo Girls||Bartle Bone|
|1997||I'll Be Home for Christmas||Bob|
|1998||The Incredible Adventures of Marco Polo||Beelzebub|
|1999||Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End||John Witting|
|2001||Living With the Dead||Allan Van Praagh|
|2004||Back When We Were Grownups||Paul 'Poppy' Davitch|
|1950||Lights Out||Episode "The Man Who Couldn't Remember"|
|1952||Westinghouse Studio One||Episode "The King in Yellow"|
|Curtain Call||Episode "Azaya"|
|Westinghouse Studio One||Episode "Little Man, Big World"|
|The Gulf Playhouse||Episode "Necktie Party"|
|1953||Danger||Episode "Said the Spider to the Fly"|
|The Web||Episode "The Last Chance"|
|Suspense||Tom Walker||Episode "The Kiss-Off"|
|The Motorola Television Hour||Scott Malone/Kurt Bauman||Episode "Brandenburg Gate"|
|Suspense||Episode "Cagliostro and the Chess Player"|
|1955||What's My Line||Himself||Mystery guest|
|1956||Playhouse 90||Harlan "Mountain" McClintock||"Requiem for a Heavyweight"
Emmy Award for Best Single Performance by an Actor
|Zane Grey Theatre||Dan Morgan||Episode "The Lariat"|
|1957||Playhouse 90||Monroe Stahr||"The Last Tycoon"|
|Playhouse 90||Manolete||"The Death of Manolete"|
|1963||The Greatest Show on Earth||Circus manager Johnny Slate||Series – top billing|
|1964||What's My Line||Himself||Mystery guest|
|1965||Convoy||Harvey Bell||Episode "The Many Colors of Courage"|
|1966||Run for Your Life||Julian Hays||Episode "I Am the Late Diana Hays"|
|Alice Through the Looking Glass||Jabberwock||(Live Theatre)|
|The Man from U.N.C.L.E.||Louis Strago||2 episodes "The Concrete Overcoat Affair: Parts I and II"|
|1968||They Came to Rob Las Vegas|
|1971||Net Playhouse||President Jackson||"Trail of Tears"|
|1973||The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour||Himself|
|1975||Bronk||Det. Lt. Alex 'Bronk' Bronkov||Series|
|1979||Buck Rogers in the 25th Century||Kaleel||Episode "Planet of the Slave Girls"|
|1981||Tales of the Haunted||Stokes||Episode "Evil Stalks This House"|
|1982–1986||Ripley's Believe It or Not!||Himself – Host||Series|
|2001||Night Visions||Jake Jennings||Episode "Bitter Harvest"|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jack Palance.|
|Wikinews has related news: "City Slickers" actor, Jack Palance, dies|