(February 18, 1919 – November 10,
2006) was a Ukrainian American
actor. With his
rugged facial features, Palance was best known to modern movie
audiences as both the characters of Curly and Duke in the two
first for which he won the Academy Award for Best
, but his career spanned half a century of film
and television appearances.
one of five children, was born Volodymyr Palahniuk
( ) in the Lattimer Mines section of Hazle Township,
Pennsylvania, the son of Anna (née Gramiak) and Ivan Palahniuk,
who was an anthracite coal miner.
parents were Ukrainian immigrants, his father a native of Ivane Zolote in
Southwestern Ukraine and his mother from the Lviv
He worked in coal mines during his youth before
becoming a boxer
In the late 1930s, Palance started a professional boxing career.
Fighting under the name Jack Brazzo
, Palance reportedly
compiled a record of 15 consecutive victories with 12 knockouts
before fighting the future heavyweight
in a "Pier-6" brawl. Palance lost a close decision, and
recounted: "Then, I thought, you must be nuts to get your head beat
in for $200".
With the outbreak of the Second World
, Palance's boxing career ended and his military career
began as a member of the United States Army Air Forces
rugged face, which took many beatings in the boxing ring, was
disfigured when he bailed out of a burning B-24 Liberator bomber while on a training
flight over southern Arizona, where he
was a student pilot.
Plastic surgeons repaired the damage as best they could, but he was
left with a distinctive, somewhat gaunt, look. After much
reconstructive surgery, he was discharged in 1944.
graduated from Stanford University in 1947 with a Bachelor
of Arts degree in Drama.
university years, to make ends meet he also worked as a short order cook, waiter, soda jerk, lifeguard at Jones Beach State Park, and photographer's model.
Palance's acting break came as Marlon
in A Streetcar Named
, and he eventually replaced Brando on stage as
Palance made his Broadway debut, and
this was followed three years later by his screen debut in the
movie Panic in the
The very same year, he was featured
in Halls of
about the U.S. 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
nomination for only his third
film role, as Lester Blaine in Sudden
Palance earned his second Oscar
nomination playing cold-blooded gunfighter Jack Wilson in 1953's
cinema classic Shane
The following year, Palance was again nominated for an Oscar, this
time for his role as the hired gunfighter Jack Wilson in
. Several other Western
roles followed, but he also played such varied roles as Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
and Attila the Hun
In 1957, Palance won an Emmy
actor for his portrayal of Mountain McClintock in the Playhouse 90
production of Rod Serling
's Requiem for a
persuaded Palance to
take on the role of Hollywood producer Jeremy Prokosch in the 1963
movie Le Mépris
, with Brigitte Bardot
and Michel Piccoli
. Although the main dialogue
was in French
, Palance spoke mostly
While still busy making movies, in the 1960s Palance also released
an album of country-Western music for Warner Bros.
Records. This happened in 1969 and
it recalled the Lee Hazlewood
that was popular at the time. Recorded in Nashville with the usual studio cats, the album is a playful
country rock romp not unlike other late
60's Nashville recordings and featured Palance's self penned
classic song "The Meanest Guy That Ever Lived".
was re-released in 2003 by the "Walter" label in CD version.
He also hosted (with his daughter Holly
) the television series Ripley's Believe It or
Appearances in Young Guns
and Tim Burton
Palance's career, and demand for his services kept him involved in
new projects each year right up to the turn of the century.
Palance, at the time chairman of the Hollywood Trident Foundation
walked out of a Russian Film Festival in Hollywood. 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."
In 2001, Palance returned to the recording studio as a special
guest on friend Laurie Z
's Heart of the
album to narrate the famous classic poem The Night Before
In 2002, he starred in the television movie Living with the
opposite Ted Danson
, Mary Steenburgen
and Diane Ladd
. In 2004, he starred in another
television production, Back When We Were Grownups
opposite Blythe Danner
performance as Poppy being Palance's last.
According to writer Mark Evanier
book creator Jack Kirby
on the actor.
Four decades after his film debut, Palance won an Academy Award for Best
on March 30
, for his performance as cowboy Curly Washburn in
comedy City Slickers
. Stepping onstage to accept
the award, the intimidatingly fit 6' 4" (1.93 m) actor looked down
at 5' 7" (1.70 m) Oscar host Billy
(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
. Crystal then turned this into a running
various points in the broadcast, he announced that Palance was
backstage on the Stairmaster; had "just
bungee-jumped off the Hollywood sign"; had rendezvoused with the Space Shuttle in orbit; had fathered all the
children in a production number; had been named People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive; and had won the
At the end of the broadcast, Crystal told
everyone he'd like to see them again "but I've just been informed
Jack Palance will be hosting next year." (The following year, host
Crystal arrived on stage atop a giant model of the Oscar statuette,
being towed by Palance using his teeth.)
Marisa Tomei Academy Award Controversy
At the 1993 Academy Awards
Palance presented the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
to Marisa Tomei
, which resulted in a famous Oscar
controversy. The American film critic Rex
was dissatisfied with Tomei's win, and started a rumor
that Palance had erroneously called out the wrong name when opening
the envelope. Reed espoused that Palance had been unable to read
the printing on the card inside the envelope, had become confused
or was too "drunk" or "stoned" to announce the winner properly. In
1997, Reed claimed on television that a "massive cover-up" was
underway to prevent the public from finding out about the mistake.
The rumor became a Hollywood urban legend. Palance refuted Reed's
claim, saying he had been correct in reading Tomei's name as the
winner when opening the envelope. He called the rumor about the
"false win" upsetting and felt it would destroy Tomei's
Bruce Davis, executive director of the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences
, issued an official statement: "The
legend of Marisa Tomei's 'mistaken Oscar' has appeared in various
forms over the years and in that short time has achieved the status
of urban myth. There is no more truth to this version than to any
of the others we've heard. If such a scenario were ever to occur,
the Price Waterhouse people backstage would simply step out onstage
and point out the error. They are not shy."
Tomei refused to comment on the rumor, calling it extremely
hurtful. She would go on to receive critical acclaim and respect
for future performances in Unhook
and Before the
Devil Knows You're Dead
and received Academy Award
nominations for In the
. Roger Ebert
on his website that "Not only is the rumor untrue, it is unfair to
Marisa Tomei, and Rex Reed owes her an apology."
Hollywood Walk of Fame
has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6608 Hollywood Boulevard. In 1992, he was
inducted into the Western Performers Hall of
Fame at the National Cowboy
& Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma
Palance was married to his first wife, Virginia Baker, from 1949 to
1968. They had three children: Holly
(born in 1950), an actress, Brooke (born in 1952) and Cody
Daughter Brooke married Michael Wilding, son of Michael Wilding
Sr. (1912-1979) and
; they have three
children as well.
An actor himself, Cody Palance appeared alongside his father in the
film Young Guns
, and was just 42
when he died from malignant
on July 16, 1998. Jack Palance had hosted The Cody Palance
Memorial Golf Classic to raise awareness and funds for a
cancer center in Los Angeles.
Besides being an actor, at one time Cody
Palance was also a great music performer who did many live
performances with his band.
Palance became divorced and married Elaine Rogers in May 1987. On
New Year's Day 2003, his first wife Virginia Baker (July 7, 1922 -
January 1, 2003) was struck by a car and killed in Los
Palance painted and sold landscape art, with a poem included on the
back of each picture. He is also the author of The Forest of
, a book of poems, published in 1996 by Summerhouse
True to his roots, Palance acknowledged a life-long attachment to
his Pennsylvania heritage and visited there when able. Shortly before his
death, he had placed his Butler Township, Pennsylvania, Holly-Brooke farm up for sale and his personal art
collection up for auction.
died at the age of 87, of natural causes, at his home in Montecito in Santa Barbara County.
He was cremated, and his ashes were
retained by family and friends.
Jack palance was also a resident of the Tehachapis for a good part
of his life. Tehachapi California is located near Bakersfield
California, part of the span of high desert in the mid-southern
section of California.
Jack Palance collection auction
other recent celebrity auctions, Palance's personal lifetime
collection of over 3,000 items at his Holly-Brooke Farm (named for
his two daughters) in Butler Township, Pennsylvania went on the auction block in October 2006.
The Jack Palance Collection 2006
Auction planners purposely included some smaller keepsakes for
people who wanted something belonging to the 87-year-old actor.
can spend $5 or $50,000 at this auction", said Phil Eagle, an
antique appraiser who traveled from California to painstakingly authenticate the items and sort them into
manageable lots to be sold.
"Each item will bear a special sticker featuring a picture of the
actor and the words 'Jack Palance Collection' to add to the value
and future collectibility", Eagle said.
- Jack Palance Biography (1920?-)
- The Last Role of an American "City Slicker" with a
- BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Veteran western star
- OBITUARY: Academy Award-winning actor Jack Palance,
- Boxing Records Official records only show Palance in
one sanctioned fight. His other fights may have been club
- M. A. SCHMIDT, "PALANCE FROM PANIC TO PAGAN",
New York Times, March
14, 1954, Drama Section X5
In an early interview, Palance claimed to have fought Baksi to a
- Lawrence Christon, "Home on the Range It's been a
long, dusty journey since Panic in the Streets and Shane",
The Los Angeles Times, April 30, 1995, Calendar Section In a later interview, Palance
admits to have lost to Baksi
- Declaring 'I'm Ukrainian, not Russian', Palance
walks out of Russian Film Festival in Hollywood
- news from me - ARCHIVES
- Pics of Cody Palance performing live
- Oscar winner Jack Palance dead at 87,
CNN.com. Retrieved on