John Cazale is a name which the entertainment world will not forget for years to come. In fact, internet searches about him have become common. Well, in case you do not know about him, here we must tell you that he is a famous actor. In fact, he has made an indelible mark in the film industry.
However, would you be shocked to learn that he did only five films? Well, in that case, truth is the only thing to offer. Though he did only five movies, all of them won Best Picture nominations and bagged the award ultimately.
Therefore, his is a career that boasts being a flawless and pristine one. Yet, the actor’s life was marred with tragedy. If you wish to know more about him, then you should go through this article.
He breathed his first on August 12, 1935, in Revere, Massachusetts, just outside Boston as John Holland Cazale. His Italian-American father sold coal in New England, while his Irish-American mother, Cecilia, raised him and his siblings. After high school in Williamstown, he studied drama at Oberlin College and later transferred to Boston University.
Cazale’s acting career began in 1959 at the Charles Playhouse in Boston. He later moved to New York, where he struggled to find stage work and had to take odd jobs like driving a taxi and working as a photographer. In 1962, he made his film debut in a student short film.
In 1966, Cazale and Al Pacino, who were working as messengers for Standard Oil, were cast in a play together, forming a lifelong friendship and winning Obie Awards for their work.
Cazale continued to excel in the theatre and briefly appeared in a TV show in 1968. He also joined the Long Wharf Theatre Company in 1969, where he performed in various productions over three seasons.
Rise To Fame
Here you must know that he was already a prominent figure in the New York theater scene when he landed his first film role in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” His theatre work caught the attention of casting director Fred Roos. In fact, he recommended him for the role of Fredo in the iconic film.
This marked the beginning of a remarkable four-film streak, including The Conversation, The Godfather Part II and Sidney Lumet’s crime drama Dog Day Afternoon, where he reunited with Al Pacino. Cazale’s outstanding performance in “Dog Day Afternoon” even earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
Did he have Cancer While Filming The Godfather?
Cancer often behaves like a stealthy intruder with its beginnings being elusive. Cazale’s final stage appearance was in a preview of “Agamemnon,” where he played the title role.
This marked his lone Broadway performance, despite his well-established reputation as a superb stage actor. Tragically, shortly after this performance, he received a diagnosis of the cancer that would ultimately claim his life.
However, Cancer didn’t appear to impact any of his scenes in The Godfather Parts I and II. Yet, his cancer had advanced to a stage where his scenes in “The Deer Hunter” had to be filmed earlier than usual to ensure his performance remained unaffected. Here you must know that based on the information available, Cazale passed away from cancer shortly before “The Deer Hunter” was released.
John Cazale and Meryl Streep
Well, the most colourful moments in his life also started through his acting career. Here we must tell you that in his theatre work, he shared the stage with stars like Richard Dreyfuss, Martin Sheen, and Raul Julia.
However, the most significant connection he made was during a Central Park production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. There he met a young Yale School of Drama graduate, Meryl Streep.
Their relationship developed into a romance, and they moved in together. Al Pacino, a close friend, remembered Cazale saying he’d met “the greatest actress in the history of the world.” This relationship continued until the end of Cazale’s life.
Is He One of the Most Underrated Actors in History?
His short career might mislead you into believing that he was a very underrated actor. Yet, the truth is just the contrary. He featured in four of Francis Ford Coppola’s six films, including “The Godfather” trilogy and “The Conversation,” where he outshone Gene Hackman.
He had fans like Al Pacino and the unwavering support of his fiancée, Meryl Streep. Robert De Niro even vouched for him in “The Deer Hunter.” In just six years, he left an indelible mark with five unforgettable movie roles.
Cazale’s stage career was equally impressive, earning him two Obie Awards. It was during a production of “Measure for Measure” that he met Meryl Streep. A documentary titled “I Knew It Was You” celebrates his legacy. Though he did not live long, he has remained as one of the unforgettable names in the history of the industry.