Saturday, July 22, 2006


Jack Warden (1920-2006)

Jack Warden was always one of my favorite character actors and it's with sadness that I report his passing. He always brought something interesting to the table, even when he was stuck in crap like the Problem Child movies. He also was incredibly prolific, both in film and television, winning an Emmy for his role as George Halas in the landmark television movie Brian's Song, two other nominations for his lead role in the series Crazy Like a Fox and Oscar nominations for two films with Warren Beatty: 1975's Shampoo and 1978's Heaven Can Wait. He will be missed, so I offer this brief look at some of his many acting highlights.

12 Angry Men (1955): Warden was part of one of the greatest ensembles ever placed on film, playing the sports-obsessed juror more interesting in getting deliberations over so he can get to the ballpark.
The Twilight Zone: "The Lonely" (Nov. 13, 1959): Warden played a convict abandoned on an asteroid who gets the "gift" of a very realistic female robot.
The Twilight Zone: "The Mighty Casey" (June 17, 1960): Not one of the best episodes of the series, but it also involved a robot, this time a robot baseball player. Most notable for Warden coming in at the last minute to pinch-hit for the actor Paul Douglas, who died during filming.
Brian's Song (1971): The TV movie about the tragic tale of Chicago Bears football player Brian Piccolo almost defined the modern tearjerker and Warden excelled at bringing legendary coach George Halas to life.
Shampoo (1975): Warden scored his first Oscar nomination as the hapless husband caught in the middle of Warren Beatty's promiscuous hair stylist.
All the President's Men (1976): Warden provided a solid presence as one of the editors of the Washington Post during the unfolding of the Watergate scandal.

Heaven Can Wait (1978): Warden gave one of his best performances and earned his second Oscar nomination as another football coach, this time the fictional coach of the Los Angeles Rams who loses his star quarterback only to find him return in the body of an eccentric millionaire.
Death on the Nile (1978): Warden gave one of his funniest performances as a doctor helping Hercule Poirot solve murders on a barge cruising through Egypt.
And Justice for All... (1979): As Al Pacino's judge confidant, Warden's performance here is perhaps best remembered for the scene where he fires a gun in the air to gain control of his courtroom.
Being There (1979): Warden played the president who gets what he thinks is wise advice from the dim gardener Chance in this great satire.
Used Cars (1980): A great underrated comedy by Robert Zemeckis which features Warden in not one, but two great comic roles as battling brothers.
The Verdict (1982): Warden plays another confidant to a lawyer, this time Paul Newman's alcoholic one seeking redemption.
September (1987): Warden teamed with Woody Allen for the first time in this underrated drama.
Bullets Over Broadway (1994): He and Woody joined forces again, this time with Warden playing a theatrical producer.
While You Were Sleeping (1995): In another strong ensemble in this light but enjoyable comedy, Warden played the wise Saul, offering advice to Sandra Bullock.
Bulworth (1998): Warden teamed with Warren Beatty again, this time as a political adviser helping a depressed senator plot his own death.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

That's quite a body of work. I think my favorite is Used Cars. Since his passing, Shampoo has been singled out for so much praise on the movie blogs that I guess I need to get over my animus towards Warren Beatty and watch that movie again.
One thing I forgot to note in my post is that with Warden's passing, Jack Klugman is now the sole surviving member of the 1957 "12 Angry Men."
My favorite is Heaven Can Wait.

He wasn't the best actor, or arguably even very good, but he had a certain charisma that made him incredibly likable. I wish more actors had that spark.
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Follow edcopeland on Twitter

 Subscribe in a reader