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John Cazale

John Holland Cazale (August 12, 1935 - March 13, 1978) was an American actor. He appeared in five films over seven years, all of which were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. He was one of Hollywood's premier character actors, often playing doomed, weak-minded individuals. He chose to continue acting despite his terminal lung cancer diagnosis and died shortly after completing his role in The Deer Hunter.


The Deer Hunter (1979)


John worked as a messenger, photographer, and taxi driver in his early days as a struggling actor.

John appeared in only five feature films in his career, and all of them were nominated for Best Picture.

Years after his death, he appeared in a sixth feature film, The Godfather: Part III (1991) in archive footage. That film was also nominated for Best Picture.

In spite of the desperate, violent characters he played in a handful of films, he was by all accounts an enormously kind and gentle person off screen, having been a close personal friend of most of the actors he had worked with. Among his greatest achievements was that he helped the discovery of childhood friend Al Pacino and fellow actors Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep.

John was actually romantically involved with Meryl Streep at the time of his death.

He and Meryl met during a "Shakespeare in the Park" stint, acting in a production of Measure for Measure.

Despite his acclaim and incredible track record, he only ever received one award nomination for his acting, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Dog Day Afternoon.

John was dying of cancer while filming The Deer Hunter and ultimately passed before the film actually premiered.

Every feature film that he starred in would later be selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, a record no other actor in film history has and likely ever will match.

Many actors such as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Steve Buscemi, Sam Rockwell, and Michael Fassbender have all named John Cazale as a major influence.

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