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John Garfield was born Jacob Julius Garfinkle in Brooklyn, New York in 1913. He was a tough kid from the start, and after his mother died when he was 7, he was sent to a school for problem kids, where he found boxing and acting. But he got very sick and he recovered, but it damaged his heart, so boxing was out, and that left acting. He won a scholarship to Maria Ouspenskaya's drama school, and in 1932 joined the Civic Repertory Theatre in 1932, changing his name to Jules Garfield. He joined the Group Theater, where he met Clifford Odets, who wrote Golden Boy for him, and he was angry when he was not cast in the lead, and he left the Group Theater and went to Hollywood, where he was signed by Warner Bros, who changed his name to John Garfield. He made a major impact with his role in Four Daughters (nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for this film), opposite the Lane Sisters and Claude Rains, and he followed with the starring role in They Made Me a Criminal, opposite Rains, Ann Sheridan and the Dead End Kids, and both the movie and Garfield were wonderful! He tried to break out of the stereotyped "tough guy from the slums" roles, even appearing as a Spanish general in Juarez (!), but most of his next roles were of the same type. Three of his best movies were The Postman Always Rings Twice, Force of Evil, and Body and Soul (nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for this film). He made a minor appearance in Gentleman's Agreement to help the movie's message about anti-Semitism be seen by more people. Garfield was caught up in the Blacklist, and when he was called to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, he refused to name names, and he was blacklisted. He returned to Broadway where he was finally able to star in a revival of Golden Boy. But that year he had a heart attack and died, under somewhat unusual circumstances. He was just 39, and he left behind a wife and two small children, both of whom later became actors (he had a third child who died while young). Garfield was one of the first "method actors" to have success in Hollywood, and he led the way for the later "rebels", Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando and James Dean. He only made 32 movies and I highly recommend them all!
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