Biography

John Nicholas Cassavetes was a Greek-American actor, film director, and screenwriter. Cassavetes was a pioneer of American independent film, writing and directing over a dozen movies, which he partially self-financed, and pioneered the use of improvisation and a realistic cinéma vérité style. He also acted in many Hollywood films, notably Rosemary's Baby (1968) and The Dirty Dozen (1967). He studied acting with Don Richardson, using an acting technique based on muscle memory.

By 1956, Cassavetes had begun teaching an alternative to method acting in his own workshop in New York City. An improvisation exercise in his workshop inspired the idea for his writing and directorial debut, Shadows. Cassavetes raised the funds for the production from friends and family, as well as listeners to Jean Shepherd's late-night radio talk-show Night People. His stated purpose was to make a film about little people, different from Hollywood studio productions.

Cassavetes was unable to gain American distribution of Shadows, but it won the Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival. European distributors later released the movie in the US as an import. With payment for his work on television, as well as a handful of film acting jobs, he was able to relocate to California and to make his subsequent films independent of any studio, as Shadows had been.

Faces (1968) was the second film to be both directed and independently financed by Cassavetes. The film starring his wife Gena Rowlands, whom he had married during his struggling actor days, depicts the slow disintegration of a marriage. Faces was nominated for three Academy Awards. Around this time, Cassavetes formed "Faces International" as a distribution company to handle his films.

In 1970, Cassavetes directed and acted in Husbands, with Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara. They played a trio of married men on a spree in New York and London after the funeral of one of their best friends. Cassavetes stated this was a personal film for him; his older brother died at the age of 30.

Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), about two unlikely lovers, featured Rowlands with Seymour Cassel. A Woman Under the Influence (1974) stars Rowlands as an increasingly troubled housewife. Rowlands received an Academy Award nomination, while Cassavetes was nominated for Best Director. In The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), Ben Gazzara plays a small-time strip-club owner with a gambling habit, pressured by mobsters to commit a murder to pay off his debt. Opening Night (1977) Rowlands portrays an aging film star working in the theater and suffering a personal crisis. Cassavetes directed the film Gloria (1980), featuring Rowlands as a Mob moll who tries to protect an orphan boy. Rowlands earned another Best Actress nomination for it.

After receiving the prognosis from his doctor that he had six months to live, Cassavetes made Love Streams (1984), which featured him as an aging playboy. It won the Golden Bear at the 34th Berlinale. Cassavetes died on February 3, 1989, at the age of 59. By then, he had amassed a collection of more than forty unproduced screenplays, as well as a novel, Husbands.

The New Yorker wrote that Cassavetes "may be the most influential American director of the last half century".

Description from the Wikipedia article John Cassavetes, licensed under CC-BY-SA.

John Nicholas Cassavetes was a Greek-American actor, film director, and screenwriter. Cassavetes was a pioneer of American independent film, writing and directing over a dozen movies, which he partially self-financed, and pioneered the use of improvisation and a realistic cinéma vérité style. He also acted in many Hollywood films, notably Rosemary's Baby (1968) and The Dirty Dozen (1967). He studied acting with Don Richardson, using an acting technique based on muscle memory.

By 1956, Cassavetes had begun teaching an alternative to method acting in his own workshop in New York City. An improvisation exercise in his workshop inspired the idea for his writing and directorial debut, Shadows. Cassavetes raised the funds for the production from friends and family, as well as listeners to Jean Shepherd's late-night radio talk-show Night People. His stated purpose was to make a film about little people, different from Hollywood studio productions.

Cassavetes was unable to gain American distribution of Shadows, but it won the Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival. European distributors later released the movie in the US as an import. With payment for his work on television, as well as a handful of film acting jobs, he was able to relocate to California and to make his subsequent films independent of any studio, as Shadows had been.

Faces (1968) was the second film to be both directed and independently financed by Cassavetes. The film starring his wife Gena Rowlands, whom he had married during his struggling actor days, depicts the slow disintegration of a marriage. Faces was nominated for three Academy Awards. Around this time, Cassavetes formed "Faces International" as a distribution company to handle his films.

In 1970, Cassavetes directed and acted in Husbands, with Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara. They played a trio of married men on a spree in New York and London after the funeral of one of their best friends. Cassavetes stated this was a personal film for him; his older brother died at the age of 30.

Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), about two unlikely lovers, featured Rowlands with Seymour Cassel. A Woman Under the Influence (1974) stars Rowlands as an increasingly troubled housewife. Rowlands received an Academy Award nomination, while Cassavetes was nominated for Best Director. In The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), Ben Gazzara plays a small-time strip-club owner with a gambling habit, pressured by mobsters to commit a murder to pay off his debt. Opening Night (1977) Rowlands portrays an aging film star working in the theater and suffering a personal crisis. Cassavetes directed the film Gloria (1980), featuring Rowlands as a Mob moll who tries to protect an orphan boy. Rowlands earned another Best Actress nomination for it.

After receiving the prognosis from his doctor that he had six months to live, Cassavetes made Love Streams (1984), which featured him as an aging playboy. It won the Golden Bear at the 34th Berlinale. Cassavetes died on February 3, 1989, at the age of 59. By then, he had amassed a collection of more than forty unproduced screenplays, as well as a novel, Husbands.

The New Yorker wrote that Cassavetes "may be the most influential American director of the last half century".

Description from the Wikipedia article John Cassavetes, licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Personal Info

Known For Acting

Gender Male

Known Credits 72

Birthday 1929-12-09

Day of Death 1989-02-03

Place of Birth New York City, New York, U.S.

Official Site -

Also Known As

  • John Nicholas Cassavetes

Acting TV ShowsMovies

2000 A Constant Forge
1993 Anything for John as (archive footage)
1989 Arena - John Cassavetes as Himself
1985 Marvin & Tige as Marvin
1985 Nederland C
1984 I'm Almost Not Crazy: John Cassavetes - the Man and His Work as Himself
1984 Love Streams as Robert Harmon
1984 Fräulein Berlin as himself
1982 The Haircut as Music Industry Executive
1982 The Incubus as Dr. Sam Cordell
1982 Tempest as Phillip Dimitrius
1981 Whose Life Is It Anyway? as Dr. Michael Emerson
1979 Flesh & Blood as Gus Caputo
1978 Brass Target as Maj. Joe De Lucca
1978 Movies Are My Life as Self
1978 The Fury as Ben Childress
1977 Opening Night as Maurice Aarons
1977 Heroes as VA Doctor
1976 Mikey and Nicky as Nicky Godalin
1976 Two-Minute Warning as Sgt. Chris Button
1975 Capone as Frankie Yale
1971 Minnie and Moskowitz as Jim (uncredited)
1971 Columbo(1 episode) as Alex Benedict
1970 Husbands as Gus Demetri
1969 Machine Gun McCain as Hank McCain
1969 Filmmakers of Our Time - John Cassavetes as Himself
1968 Bandits in Rome as Mario Corda
1968 Rosemary's Baby as Guy Woodhouse
1968 Alexander The Great as Karonos
1967 Operation Dirty Dozen as Himself
1967 The Dirty Dozen as Victor Franko
1967 Devil's Angels as Cody
1965 The Legend of Jesse James(1 episode)
1964 Profiles in Courage(1 episode)
1964 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea(1 episode)
1964 The Killers as Johnny North
1963 Kraft Suspense Theatre(1 episode)
1963 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre(1 episode)
1963 Burke's Law(4 episodes)
1962 Combat!(1 episode)
1962 The Virginian(1 episode)
1961 Dr. Kildare(1 episode)
1959 Johnny Staccato(25 episodes) as Johnny Staccato
1959 Virgin Island as Evan
1959 Rawhide(1 episode)
1958 Saddle the Wind as Tony Sinclair
1958 The Dick Clark Show(1 episode)
1957 Decoy(1 episode)
1957 Affair in Havana as Nick Douglas
1957 Edge of the City as Axel Nordmann
1956 Crime in the Streets as Frankie Dane
1955 The 20th Century Fox Hour(1 episode)
1955 Alfred Hitchcock Presents(1 episode)
1955 The Night Holds Terror as Robert Batsford
1954 Climax!(2 episodes)
1953 General Electric Theater(1 episode)
1951 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars(1 episode)
1950 Robert Montgomery Presents(1 episode)
1948 Studio One(1 episode)
1948 The Philco Television Playhouse(1 episode)
1948 The Ed Sullivan Show(1 episode)

Directing

1986 Big TroubleDirector
1984 Love StreamsDirector
1980 GloriaDirector
1977 Opening NightDirector
1976 The Killing of a Chinese BookieDirector
1974 A Woman Under the InfluenceDirector
1971 Minnie and MoskowitzDirector
1970 HusbandsDirector
1968 FacesDirector
1963 A Child Is WaitingDirector
1962 The Lloyd Bridges Show(1 episode)Director
1961 Too Late BluesDirector
1959 ShadowsDirector
1959 Johnny Staccato(5 episodes)Director

Writing

1999 GloriaScreenplay
1997 She's So LovelyWriter
1984 Love StreamsWriter
1980 GloriaScreenplay
1977 Opening NightWriter
1976 The Killing of a Chinese BookieWriter
1974 A Woman Under the InfluenceScreenplay
1974 A Woman Under the InfluenceWriter
1971 Minnie and MoskowitzWriter
1970 HusbandsWriter
1968 FacesScreenplay
1961 Too Late BluesWriter
1959 ShadowsWriter

Editing

1970 HusbandsEditor
1968 FacesEditor
1959 ShadowsEditor

Production

1968 FacesProducer

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