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Alan Arkin
AlanArkinTIFFSept2012 (cropped).jpg
Alan Wolf Arkin

(1934-03-26) March 26, 1934 (age 87)
  • Actor
  • director
  • musician
  • screenwriter
  • singer
Years active1955–present
  • Jeremy Yaffe
    (m. 1955; div. 1961)
  • Barbara Dana
    (m. 1964; div. 1994)
  • Suzanne Newlander
    (m. 1996)
Children3, including Adam and Matthew

Alan Wolf Arkin (born March 26, 1934) is an American actor, director and screenwriter. With a film career spanning seven decades, Arkin is known for his performances in The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966), Wait Until Dark (1967), The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968), Popi (1969), Catch-22 (1970); The In-Laws (1979), Edward Scissorhands (1990), The Rocketeer (1991), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), Grosse Point Blank (1997), Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001), Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Sunshine Cleaning (2008) and Argo (2012). Most recently, he shared the screen with Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine in Going in Style (2017).

He has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor twice, for his performances in The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Little Miss Sunshine and received critical praise and a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance in Argo.[1]

Early life

Arkin was born in Brooklyn New York, on March 26, 1934, the son of David I. Arkin, a painter and writer and his wife, Beatrice (née Wortis), a teacher.[2] He was raised in a Jewish family with "no emphasis on religion".[3] His grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, Russia, and Germany.[4][5][6][7] His parents moved to Los Angeles when Alan was 11,[4] but an 8-month Hollywood strike cost his father his job as a set designer. During the 1950s Red Scare, Arkin's parents were accused of being Communists, and his father was fired when he refused to answer questions about his political ideology. David Arkin challenged the dismissal, but he was vindicated only after his death.[8]


Early work

Arkin in Popi (1969)
Arkin in Popi (1969)

Arkin, who had been taking acting lessons since age 10, became a scholarship student at various drama academies, including one run by the Stanislavsky student Benjamin Zemach, who taught Arkin a psychological approach to acting.[9] Arkin attended Los Angeles State College from 1951 to 1953. He also attended Bennington College.[10]

Arkin was an early member of the Second City comedy troupe in the 1960s.[11]


With Shirley Knight in the TV special The Defection of Simas Kudirka (1978)
With Shirley Knight in the TV special The Defection of Simas Kudirka (1978)

Arkin is one of only six[12] actors to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his first screen appearance (for The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming in 1966).[13] Two years later, he was nominated for The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.[14]

In 1968, he appeared in the title role of Inspector Clouseau after Peter Sellers dissociated himself from the role, but the film was not well received by Sellers' fans. Arkin and his second wife Barbara Dana appeared together on the 1970–1971 season of Sesame Street as a comical couple named Larry and Phyllis who resolve their conflicts when they remember how to pronounce the word "cooperate."

Arkin and Dana later appeared in 1987 on the sitcom Harry, which was canceled after four low-rated episodes.

His best known films include Wait Until Dark as the erudite killer stalking Audrey Hepburn; The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming as the leader of the landing party from the stranded Soviet submarine, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Catch-22, as Yossarian, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Little Murders, The In-Laws, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Little Miss Sunshine, for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar; and Argo. His portrayal of Dr. Oatman, a psychiatrist treating John Cusack's hit man character in Grosse Point Blank, was also well received.

His role in Little Miss Sunshine as a foul-mouthed grandfather with a taste for snorting heroin won him the BAFTA Film Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. On receiving his Academy Award on February 25, 2007, Arkin said "More than anything, I'm deeply moved by the open-hearted appreciation our small film has received, which in these fragmented times speaks so openly of the possibility of innocence, growth, and connection".[15] At 72 years old, Arkin was the sixth oldest winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.[citation needed]

In 2006–2007, Arkin was cast in supporting roles in Rendition as a U.S. Senator and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause as Bud Newman (Carol's Father).

On Broadway, Arkin starred in Enter Laughing (for which he won a Tony Award) and Luv. He also directed The Sunshine Boys.


In 1969, Arkin's directorial debut was the Oscar-nominated[16] 12-minute children's film titled People Soup, starring his sons Adam and Matthew Arkin.[17][18] Based on a story of the same name he published in Galaxy Science Fiction in 1958,[19] People Soup is a fantasy about two boys who experiment with various kitchen ingredients until they concoct a magical soup which transforms them into different animals and objects.

Arkin in 1975
Arkin in 1975

His most acclaimed directorial effort is Little Murders, released in 1971. Written by cartoonist Jules Feiffer, it is a black comedy film starring Elliott Gould and Marcia Rodd about a girl, Patsy (Rodd), who brings home her boyfriend Alfred (Gould) to meet her dysfunctional family amid a series of random shootings, garbage strikes, and electrical outages ravaging the neighborhood. The film opened to a lukewarm review by Roger Greenspan,[20] and a more positive one by Vincent Canby[21] in The New York Times. Roger Ebert's review in the Chicago Sun-Times was enthusiastic, stating "One of the reasons it works and is indeed a definitive reflection of America's darker moods is that it breaks audiences down into isolated individuals, vulnerable and uncertain."[22]

Arkin also directed Fire Sale (1977), Samuel Beckett Is Coming Soon (1993), and Arigo (2000).


Arkin is the author of many books, including Tony's Hard Work Day (illustrated by James Stevenson, 1972), The Lemming Condition (illustrated by Joan Sandin, 1976), Halfway Through the Door: An Actor's Journey Toward Self (1979), and The Clearing (1986 continuation of Lemming). He has released two memoirs: An Improvised Life (2011) and Out of My Mind (2018).[23][24]


With two friends, he formed the folk group The Tarriers, in which Arkin sang and played guitar. The band members co-composed the group's 1956 hit "The Banana Boat Song", a reworking, with some new lyrics, of a traditional, Jamaican calypso folk song of the same name, combined with another titled "Hill and Gully Rider".[25] It reached No. 4 on the Billboard magazine chart the same year as Harry Belafonte's better-known hit version.[26] The group appeared in the 1957 Calypso-exploitation film Calypso Heat Wave, singing "Banana Boat Song" and "Choucoune".[27][28] Arkin was a member of The Tarriers when they recorded "Cindy, Oh Cindy" which went to the top of the charts.

From 1958 to 1968, Arkin performed and recorded with the children's folk group The Baby Sitters.[29] He also performed the role of Dr. Pangloss in a concert staging of Leonard Bernstein's operetta Candide, alongside Madeline Kahn's Cunegonde.

In 1985, he sang two selections by Jones and Schmidt on Ben Bagley's album Contemporary Broadway Revisited.


In 2014, Arkin received the Gregory Peck Award for Cinematic Excellence to honor his life's work at the San Diego Film Festival.[30]

Personal life

Arkin has been married three times, with two ending in divorce. He and Jeremy Yaffe (m. 1955–1961) have two sons: Adam Arkin, born August 19, 1956, and Matthew Arkin, born March 21, 1960. He was married to actress-screenwriter Barbara Dana from 1964 to 1994: she appeared with him in segments of the TV show Sesame Street in the 1970s. They lived in Chappaqua, New York. In 1967, they had a son, Anthony (Tony) Dana Arkin.[31] In 1996, Arkin married psychotherapist Suzanne Newlander,[8] whose surname he adopted for his character Norman Newlander in The Kominsky Method. They live in Carlsbad, California.



Year Title Role Other notes
1957 Calypso Heat Wave Tarriers lead singer
1963 That's Me Un­known Short film; also writer
1966 The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming Lt. Rozanov Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor
Nominated - Laurel Award for Top Male Comedy Performance
Nominated - New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
The Last Mohican Mr. Ableman Short film; also writer
1967 Woman Times Seven Fred Segment: The Suicides
Wait Until Dark Roat
Harry Roat Jr.
Harry Roat Sr.
1968 Inspector Clouseau Inspector Jacques Clouseau
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter John Singer Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated - Laurel Award for Top Male Dramatic Performance
1969 Popi Abraham Rodriguez Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
The Monitors Garbage man in commercial Cameo
People Soup Adam Short film; also writer and director
1970 Catch-22 Capt. John Yossarian Nominated - Laurel Award for Top Male Dramatic Performance
Nominated - National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
1971 Little Murders Lt. Miles Practice Also director
1972 Deadhead Miles Cooper
Last of the Red Hot Lovers Barney Cashman
1974 Freebie and the Bean Det. Sgt. Dan "Bean" Delgado
1975 Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins Gunny Rafferty Also released as Rafferty and the Highway Hustlers
Hearts of the West Burt Kessler New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
1976 The Seven-Per-Cent Solution Sigmund Freud
1977 Fire Sale Ezra Fikus Also director
1979 The In-Laws Sheldon S. Kornpett, D.D.S. Also executive producer
The Magician of Lublin Yasha Mazur
1980 Simon Prof. Simon Mendelssohn Nominated - Saturn Award for Best Actor
1981 Improper Channels Jeffrey Martley Genie Award for Best Performance by a Foreign Actor
Chu Chu and the Philly Flash Flash
Full Moon High Dr. Brand
1982 The Last Unicorn Schmendrick Voice only
1983 The Return of Captain Invincible Captain Invincible
1985 Joshua Then and Now Reuben Shapiro Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Bad Medicine Dr. Ramón Madera
1986 Big Trouble Leonard Hoffman
1987 Escape from Sobibor Leon Feldhendler
1990 Coupe de Ville Fred Libner
Edward Scissorhands Bill Boggs Nominated - Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
Havana Joe Volpi
1991 The Rocketeer A. "Peevy" Peabody
1992 Glengarry Glen Ross George Aaronow Valladolid International Film Festival Best Actor Award
1993 Indian Summer Unca Lou Handler
So I Married an Axe Murderer Police Captain
Samuel Beckett Is Coming Soon The Director Also director
1994 North Judge Buckle
1995 Picture Windows Tully Segment: Soir Bleu
The Jerky Boys: The Movie Ernie Lazarro
Steal Big Steal Little Lou Perilli
1996 Heck's Way Home Dogcatcher
Mother Night George Kraft
1997 Grosse Pointe Blank Dr. Oatman
Four Days in September Charles Burke Elbrick
Gattaca Det. Hugo
1998 Slums of Beverly Hills Murray Samuel Abromowitz
1999 Jakob the Liar Max Frankfurter
2000 Magicians Milo Direct-to-video
2001 America's Sweethearts Wellness Guide
Thirteen Conversations About One Thing Gene Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cast
Nominated - Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
Nominated - National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
2004 Eros Dr. Pearl
Segment: Equilibrium
Noel Artie Venizelos
2006 Little Miss Sunshine Edwin Hoover Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated - National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Prism Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film
Nominated - Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Firewall Arlin Forester
The Novice Father Benkhe
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause Bud Newman
Raising Flagg Flagg Purdy
2007 Rendition Senator Hawkins
2008 Sunshine Cleaning Joe Lorkowski
Get Smart The Chief
Marley & Me Arnie Klein
2009 The Private Lives of Pippa Lee Herb Lee
City Island Michael Malakov
2011 Thin Ice Gorvy Hauer
The Change-Up Mitchell Planko Sr.
The Muppets Tour Guide Cameo
2012 Argo Lester Siegel Hollywood Film Award for Ensemble of the Year
 Palm Springs International Film Festival Ensemble Cast Award
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated - Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated - London Film Critics' Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated - San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated - San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble
Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated - Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Stand Up Guys Richard Hirsch
2013 The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Rance Holloway
In Security Officer Riggs
Grudge Match Louis "Lightning" Conlon
2014 Million Dollar Arm Ray Poitevint
2015 Love the Coopers Bucky
2017 Going in Style Albert Garner
2019 Dumbo J. Griffin Remington
2020 Spenser Confidential Henry Cimoli
2022 Minions: The Rise of Gru Wild Knuckles Voice only


Year Title Role Notes
1964 East Side/West Side Ted Miller Episode: "The Beatnik and the Politician"
1966 ABC Stage 67 Barney Kempinski Episode: "The Love Song of Barney Kempinski"
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Drama
1970–1971 Sesame Street Larry 4 episodes, with then-wife Barbara Dana as Larry's wife Phyllis[32]
1978 The Other Side of Hell Frank Dole TV movie
The Defection of Simas Kudirka Simas Kudirka
1979 Carol Burnett & Company Himself Episode #1.2
1980 The Muppet Show Himself Episode: "Alan Arkin"
1983 St. Elsewhere Jerry Singleton Episodes: "Ties That Bind", "Lust En Veritas" & "Newheart"
1985 Faerie Tale Theatre Bo Episode: The Emperor's New Clothes
The Fourth Wise Man Orontes TV movie
1986 A Deadly Business Harold Kaufman
1987 Harry Harry Porschak 7 episodes
Escape from Sobibor Leon Feldhendler Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
1988 Necessary Parties Archie Corelli TV movie
1993 Cooperstown Harry Willette TV movie
Nominated - Cable ACE Award for Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries
Taking the Heat Tommy Canard TV movie
1994 Doomsday Gun Col. Yossi
1995 Picture Windows Tully Miniseries
1997 Chicago Hope Zoltan Karpathein Episode: "The Son Also Rises"
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
1999 Blood Money Willy "The Hammer" Canzaro TV movie
2001 Varian's War Bill Freier
2001–2002 100 Centre Street Joe Rifkind 10 episodes
2003 The Pentagon Papers Harry Rowen TV movie
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself Sam Drebben TV movie
2005 Will & Grace Marty Adler Episode: "It's a Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad World"
2015–2016 BoJack Horseman J. D. Salinger (voice) 4 episodes
2017 Get Shorty Eugene Episode: "The Yips"
2018–2019 The Kominsky Method Norman Newlander 16 episodes
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (2019 & 2020)
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (2019 & 2020)
Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (2019 & 2020)
Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2019 & 2020)

See also


  1. ^ "Alan Arkin winning Best Supporting Actor – Oscars on YouTube".
  2. ^ "Alan Arkin Biography". Retrieved May 12, 2008.
  3. ^ Bloom, Nate (February 19, 2013). "Interfaith Celebrities: 85th Annual Academy Awards". Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Sierchio, Pat (February 16, 2007). "Alan Arkin—not just another kid From Brooklyn". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Archived from the original on February 23, 2007. Retrieved February 16, 2007.
  5. ^ "Actor brings creative ways to Honolulu for workshops | Hawaii's Newspaper". The Honolulu Advertiser. January 27, 2004. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  6. ^ Whitty, Stephen (October 14, 2012). "Alan Arkin: Room for improvisation". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  7. ^ Lague, Louise (March 26, 1979). "Stardom Was a Catch-22 for Alan Arkin, but His Wife and a Guru Helped Beat the System". People. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Alan Arkin biography". Yahoo! Movies. 2008. Archived from the original on December 16, 2006. Retrieved December 9, 2006.
  9. ^ Farrell, Barry. "Yossarian in Connecticut: Since Catch-22, actor's actor Alan Arkin finally stars as ... Alan Arkin" Life. October 1970.
  10. ^ "Alan Arkin | Bennington College".
  11. ^ Rabin, Nathan (August 2, 2006). "Interview: Alan Arkin". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on February 9, 2009. Retrieved March 20, 2009.
  12. ^ Best Actor.
  13. ^ Nixon, Rob (2018). "THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING". Turner Classic Movies.
  14. ^ "Cliff Robertson Wins Best Actor: 1969 Oscars". YouTube.
  15. ^ "The 79th Academy Awards (2007)". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. February 25, 2007. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  16. ^ "Short Film Oscars® in 1970 - Oscars on YouTube".
  17. ^ "People Soup" – via IMDb.
  18. ^ "RiffTrax Short: People Soup (Preview)-YouTube".
  19. ^ Galaxy Magazine (November 1958). November 1958.
  20. ^ Greenspun, Roger (February 10, 1971). "' Little Murders' Is Back As Film Arkin Directed (Published 1971)" – via
  21. ^ Canby, Vincent (February 21, 1971). "What's So Funny? Murders". The New York Times. New York. p. D1. Little Murders succeeds, at times triumphantly, and it does everything more or less backwards.
  22. ^ "Roger Ebert's review". Chicago Sun-Times. January 1, 1971. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  23. ^ "Out Of My Mind".
  24. ^ "Alan Arkin Biography – life, family, children, name, story, school, mother, young, son – Newsmakers Cumulation". Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  25. ^ Lovece, Frank. "Fast Chat: Alan Arkin". New York Newsday. January 7, 2007.
  26. ^ "The Tarriers | Biography & History". AllMusic.
  27. ^ "Calypso Heat Wave (1957) - IMDb" – via
  28. ^ "Calypso Heat Wave (1957) - IMDb" – via
  29. ^ "Alan Arkin Biography". Retrieved April 9, 2007.
  30. ^ "Actor Alan Arkin accepts the Gregory Peck Lifetime Achievement Award..." Getty Images. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  31. ^ Lague, Louise (March 26, 1979). "Stardom Was a Catch-22 for Alan Arkin, but His Wife and a Guru Helped Beat the System". People. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  32. ^ jtomally9681 (May 2, 2011). "Classic Sesame Street – Larry and Phyllis – Singing" – via YouTube.

External links


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