Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Amazingly enough today Dustin Hoffman turns seventy years of age. What an amazing actor. My all time favorite film of his will always remain as Tootsie but "Rain Man" makes a very close second. His career story is really fascinating. Hoffman was born in Los Angeles California to Lillian Gold, a jazz pianist, and Harry Hoffman, who worked as a prop supervisor/set decorator at Columbia Pictures before becoming a furniture salesman! As I love to say-- that's a combo you could mix in a glass!
Dustin performed at the Pasadena Playhouse for two years with fellow actor Gene Hackman, who were both voted notoriously by their class as "Least Likely To Succeed", as both actors didn't fit in with the traditional norms of the blond, surf tanned performers in demand at the time. Determined to prove his classmates wrong, Hackman headed for New York City and told Hoffman to call him if he were to come to New York City. Hoffman took Hackman up on his offer and soon after followed his friend to New York, where he worked a series of odd jobs, such as coat checking at restaurants, working in the typing department of the city Yellow Pages directory, or stringing Hawaiian leis, while getting the occasional bit television role. To support himself, he left acting briefly to teach. Believe it or not, folks Dustin Hoffman also worked as a professional fragrance tester for Maxwell House. Coffee! Oh what we have to do to earn a living in the lean years! Dustin used to quip that if this acting thing didn't work out his proboscis-obnoxious would always find enough food for the table. In 1960, Hoffman landed a role in an off-Broadway production and followed with a walk-on role in a Broadway production in 1961.He also did the occasional television commercial. An oft-replayed segment on programs that explore actors' early work is a clip showing a young Hoffman touting the Volkswagen Fastback. Dustin then studied at the famed Actors Studio and became a dedicated method actor.Through the early and mid-1960s, Dustin made appearances early in his career on many television shows and movies, including Naked City, The Defenders and Hallmark Hall of Fame. Hoffman made his theatrical film debut in The Tiger Makes Out in 1967, alongside Eli Wallach. In 1966, young up-and-coming director Mike Nichols, fresh off a Best Director Oscar- nomination for his film Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, began casting his next film The Graduate, an adaptation of author Charles Webb's little-known novel of the same name. The first choice for the role of Benjamin Braddock, Warren Beatty, soon dropped out. The second choice was Robert Redford, who also wanted the role, but agreed with Nichols that he was too charming and popular to play the role of a sweaty-palmed, sexually uncomfortable virgin.Hungry for a role, Dustin auditioned for the film and, luckily, he came through with the exact and precise amount of awkwardness necessary for the role. Hoffman was cast, and the film began production in March 1967. That was 40 years ago! The cast included Anne Bancroft as the sexually promiscuous older woman, Mrs. Robinson. Though the age difference in their characters was intended to be 20-25 years, Hoffman and Bancroft were actually only 6 years apart in age difference. Hoffman was twenty-nine. Dustin Hoffman received an Academy Award nomination for his performance in The Graduate. The film was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and Nichols took home the award for Best Director. The Graduate was also subsequently voted as the #7 Greatest American Movie of All-Time by the AFI. Happy Birthday Dustin Hoffman!

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