Best Actor Oscar, iconic screen characters, long list of major film roles, producer of distinguished films. Burt Lancaster was a lot of things. Lancaster was in his thirties before he became an actor, but became a star quickly, and for 25 years was a major leading man before his career cooled off and he moved into offbeat roles and character parts.
Here are a few interesting aspects about Lancaster’s life and career.
Lancaster was 34 when he made his first film, Desert Fury (1947). Rather old for a rookie.
His second film, The Killers, made he and Ava Gardner stars. The film was based on an Ernest Hemingway short story. This film was actually released before his first film.
He spent the 1930’s as an acrobat performing in a circus. After an injury, he was a lingerie salesman and singing waiter, before enlisting in the Army.
One of his production company films, Marty (1955), won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
He starred in The Swimmer (1968), and he had to learn to swim prior to filming.
Turned down the title role in Patton but actively campaigned for the title role in The Godfather.
Was offered the role of Dirty Harry but declined. And with A Streetcar Named Desire, and Ben-Hur.
Made seven films with Kirk Douglas but they were not friends.
Despite hating the film Airport, his contract was for 10 percent of the profits.
Lancaster’s son, Bill, wrote the screenplay for Bad News Bears, and based the coach on his father, who was frequently grumpy.
His various production companies produced more than 25 films, most of them he stared in.
Although a very active producer, he only directed two films in his career. The Kentuckian (1955) and Midnight Man (1974).
Won the Best Actor Oscar for Elmer Gantry (1960), one of four times he was nominated.
Watch for Burt Lancaster: Part II, a more detailed look at his career.