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Jack Palance

Jack PalanceAKA Vladimir Palahnuik

Born: 18-Feb-1919
Birthplace: Lattimer Mines, PA
Died: 10-Nov-2006
Location of death: Montecito, CA
Cause of death: Natural Causes
Remains: Cremated

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Actor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Performed one-handed push-ups

Military service: US Army Air Corps

Jack Palance was a handsome yet ferocious-looking actor who usually played savage thugs or tough-as-nails cops. His breathless, staccato style of speaking added to his intimidating presence. He appeared in about 90 movies, stealing scenes in supporting roles and carrying films in leading roles. American audiences knew him as "Joker" Jack Nicholson's doomed sidekick in Batman, as the cartoonish heavy in Stallone and Russell's Tango & Cash, and as the aging bad guy in the Gen-X western Young Guns. In City Slickers, he spoofed his tough image, leading Billy Crystal and Daniel Stern on a cattle drive.

Born Vladimir Palahnuik to Ukranian immigrants, he called himself Walter Jack Palance to keep from being teased. As a young man, he was a professional boxer, which explains his rippled nose. He served in the Army Air Force during World War II, and required facial reconstruction after the B-24 bomber he was flying crashed while patrolling the coast of California.

While he was a struggling actor, he worked as a short-order cook, soda jerk, and lifeguard. He understudied Marlon Brando in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire, and Brando invited Palance to work out with him in the theater's basement. The actors were pounding a punching bag when Palance missed the bag and splattered Brando's nose. Brando was taken to a hospital for medical attention, while Palance took the stage in the lead, and his performance drew a contract offer from 20th Century Fox. Palance always maintained that making his own "big break" was an accident.

In his first film, Panic in the Streets (1950) with Richard Widmark, he played a killer infected with bubonic plague. In Shane with Alan Ladd, he played a cold-hearted gunfighter. In the classic Sudden Fear with Joan Crawford, he played her murderous husband. He starred in the '50s noir classic I Died A Thousand Times with Shelley Winters and Lon Chaney, Jr., and in the wild western The Professionals, he played "the bloodiest cutthroat in Mexico", alongside macho men Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, and Woody Strode. He played Attila the Hun in Sign of the Pagan. And in a near-forgotten gem from 1955, The Big Knife with Ida Lupino, he played a movie star who wanted to leave Hollywood and make more highbrow, artistic films.

That was Palance, too. He often took work in Europe, where he could play roles unavailable to him in Hollywood, and work unfettered by his American movie-star image. In the spaghetti western Companeros, he played a sadistic one-handed pot-smoker. In 1959's Beyond All Limits, he played a shrimp fisherman, and delivered his lines in Spanish. He played Fidel Castro in Che!, and may have done his best work in Jean-Luc Godard's tragedy Contempt. He also excelled as the grizzled WWII hero in Attack with Eddie Albert and Lee Marvin. In Robert Aldrich's Ten Seconds to Hell, he played a former German soldier working in a bomb squad. In Baghdad Café, Palance played a creatively stifled painter in the middle of nowhere.

With his mean demeanor, he was the studio's first choice to play the Klingon Commander in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, but Palance had to decline, as the filming schedule conflicted with City Slickers. At the next year's Oscars ceremony, where he won the Best Supporting Actor statue for City Slickers, Palance performed several one-handed push-ups, just to show that he could. On TV, he joined the circus in The Greatest Show on Earth, played the detective Bronk, and hosted Ripley's Believe It or Not! for several years. He once fell asleep and began snoring in his square on The Hollywood Squares.

Palance lived his last years on his ranch in rural California, and also owned a farm in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. His daughter Brooke is married to Michael Wilding Jr., son of Elizabeth Taylor.

Father: (coal miner)
Wife: Virginia Baker (Greenpeace activist, m. 21-Apr-1949, div. 1966, three children)
Mistress: Mamie Van Doren (circa 1954)
Daughter: Holly Palance (actress, b. 5-Aug-1950)
Daughter: Brooke Palance (actress, b. 9-Feb-1952)
Son: Cody Palance (actor, b. Dec-1955, d. 15-Jul-1998 cancer)
Wife: Elaine Palance

    University: University of North Carolina
    University: BA Drama, Stanford University (1949)

    Endorsement of Taco Bell 1995
    Endorsement of Ford Motors 1996
    Endorsement of Arby's 1998
    Oscar for Best Supporting Actor 1992 for City Slickers
    Golden Globe 1992 for City Slickers
    Emmy 1957 for Playhouse 90 "Requiem for a Heavyweight"
    Hollywood Walk of Fame 6608 Hollywood Blvd. (television)
    Ukrainian Ancestry

    Bronk Lt. Alex Bronkov (1975-76)
    The Greatest Show on Earth Johnny Slate (1963-64)

    Living with the Dead (28-Apr-2002)
    Prancer Returns (20-Nov-2001)
    Treasure Island (17-Jun-2001)
    Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End (21-Nov-1999) · John Witting
    Ebenezer (25-Nov-1998)
    The Incredible Adventures of Marco Polo (1998)
    I'll Be Home for Christmas (23-Dec-1997)
    Buffalo Girls (30-Apr-1995) · Bartle Bone
    The Swan Princess (18-Nov-1994) · Rothbart [VOICE]
    City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold (10-Jun-1994) · Duke and Curly Washburn
    Cops and Robbersons (15-Apr-1994) · Jake Stone
    Cyborg 2 (24-Nov-1993) · Mercy
    City Slickers (7-Jun-1991)
    Solar Crisis (14-Jul-1990)
    Tango & Cash (22-Dec-1989) · Yves Perret
    Batman (23-Jun-1989) · Grissom
    Outlaw of Gor (1989)
    Imagine: John Lennon (7-Oct-1988) · Himself
    Young Guns (12-Aug-1988) · L. G. Murphy
    Gor (1988)
    Bagdad Café (12-Nov-1987) · Rudi Cox
    Alone in the Dark (12-Nov-1982)
    Without Warning (26-Nov-1980)
    Hawk the Slayer (1980)
    Cocaine Cowboys (5-Oct-1979)
    The Shape of Things to Come (4-May-1979)
    Angels' Brigade (1979)
    One Man Jury (29-Sep-1978)
    Welcome to Blood City (23-Aug-1977)
    Portrait of a Hitman (1977)
    The Four Deuces (Jan-1976)
    The Cop in Blue Jeans (1976)
    God's Gun (1976) · Sam Clayton
    Africa Express (1976)
    The Sensuous Nurse (19-Dec-1975)
    The Great Adventure (4-Aug-1975) · Bates
    Craze (May-1974)
    Oklahoma Crude (3-Jul-1973)
    Dracula (1973)
    Chato's Land (7-Jun-1972)
    Saddle Tramps (31-Mar-1972)
    The Horsemen (24-Jul-1971)
    Monte Walsh (2-Oct-1970) · Chet Rollins
    Compańeros (17-Aug-1970)
    The McMasters (1-Aug-1970)
    Che! (29-May-1969)
    The Desperados (16-May-1969)
    Marquis de Sade: Justine (3-Apr-1969)
    They Came to Rob Las Vegas (5-Feb-1969) · Douglas
    The Mercenary (29-Aug-1968)
    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (7-Jan-1968)
    Kill a Dragon (6-Dec-1967) · Rick Masters
    Torture Garden (1967)
    The Professionals (2-Nov-1966) · Raza
    Once a Thief (27-Jul-1965) · Walter Pedak
    Contempt (29-Oct-1963) · Jeremy Prokosch
    Barabbas (10-Oct-1962) · Torvald
    The Mongols (31-Aug-1961)
    Sword of the Conqueror (24-Aug-1961)
    Austerlitz (17-Jun-1960)
    Revak the Barbarian (1960)
    Ten Seconds to Hell (16-Jun-1959) · Eric Koertner
    The Man Inside (7-Sep-1958)
    House of Numbers (12-Sep-1957) · Arnie and Bill Judlow
    The Lonely Man (12-Aug-1957)
    Attack (19-Sep-1956) · Lt. Costa
    I Died a Thousand Times (9-Nov-1955) · Roy Earle -- Roy Collins
    The Big Knife (8-Nov-1955) · Charlie Castle
    Kiss of Fire (23-Sep-1955)
    The Silver Chalice (20-Dec-1954) · Simon
    Sign of the Pagan (25-Nov-1954)
    Man in the Attic (23-Dec-1953) · Slade
    Flight to Tangier (21-Nov-1953) · Gil Walker
    Arrowhead (3-Aug-1953)
    Second Chance (18-Jul-1953) · Cappy Gordon
    Shane (24-Apr-1953) · Jack Wilson
    Sudden Fear (6-Aug-1952) · Lester Blaine
    Halls of Montezuma (5-Jan-1951) · Pigeon Lane
    Panic in the Streets (12-Jun-1950) · Blackie

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