Jack Palance

Jack Palance

Palance in 1953
Born Volodymyr Palahniuk
(1919-02-18)February 18, 1919
Hazleton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died November 10, 2006(2006-11-10) (aged 87)
Montecito, California, U.S.
Residence Tehachapi, California, U.S.
Other names Jack Brazzo
Walter Palance
Walter J. Palance
Walter Jack Palance
Occupation Actor, singer
Years active 1947–2004
Spouse(s) Virginia Baker (m. 1949; div. 1968)
Elaine Rogers (m. 1987)
Children 3, including Holly Palance

Jack Palance (born Volodymyr Palahniuk (Ukrainian: Володимир Палагню́к); February 18, 1919 – November 10, 2006) was an American actor and singer. He was nominated for three Academy Awards, all for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, winning in 1992 for his role in City Slickers.

Early life

Palance was born in Lattimer Mines, Pennsylvania, the son of Anna (née Gramiak) and Ivan Palahniuk, an anthracite coal miner.[1] His parents were Ukrainian immigrants,[2][3] his father a native of Ivane Zolote in southwestern Ukraine (modern Ternopil Oblast) and his mother from the Lviv Oblast, an ethnic Pole.[4][5] One of six children, he worked in coal mines during his youth before becoming a professional boxer in the late 1930s.

Fighting under the name Jack Brazzo, Palance reportedly compiled a record of 15 consecutive victories with 12 knockouts before losing a close decision to future heavyweight contender Joe Baksi in a Pier-6 brawl.[6][7][8] Years later he recounted: "Then, I thought, you must be nuts to get your head beat in for $200."[9]

With the outbreak of World War II, Palance's athletic career ended, and his military career began as a member of the United States Army Air Forces. Palance's face, which took many beatings in the boxing ring, was said to have become disfigured while bailing out of a burning B-24 Liberator bomber during a training flight over Southern Arizona (where Palance was a student pilot). His distinctive cheekbones and deep-set eyes were said to have been the result of reconstructive surgery. The story behind Palance's face was repeated numerous times (including in respected film reference works), but upon his death, several obituaries of Palance quoted him as saying that the entire story had been contrived: "Studio press agents make up anything they want to, and reporters go along with it. One flack created the legend that I had been blown up in an air crash during the war, and my face had to be put back together by way of plastic surgery. If it is a 'bionic face', why didn't they do a better job of it?"

Palance was honorably discharged from the Army Air Corps in 1944. After the war, he attended Stanford University, leaving one credit shy of graduating to pursue a career in the theatre [10] During his university years, he worked as a short order cook, waiter, soda jerk, lifeguard at Jones Beach State Park, and photographer's model. His last name was actually a derivative of his original name. In an episode of What's My Line?, he described how no one could pronounce his last name and it was suggested he be called Palanski. From that he decided to just use Palance instead.[11]


Palance in The Godchild (1974)

Palance's acting break came as Marlon Brando's understudy in A Streetcar Named Desire, and he eventually replaced Brando on stage as Stanley Kowalski.

In 1947, Palance made his Broadway debut. He debuted on television in 1949, and this was followed a year later by his screen debut in the movie Panic in the Streets (1950).[12] The same year he was featured in Halls of Montezuma about the United States Marines in World War II, where he was credited as "Walter (Jack) Palance". Palance was quickly recognized for his skill as a character actor, receiving an Oscar nomination for his third film role as Lester Blaine in Sudden Fear.[13]

The following year, Palance was nominated for an Oscar for his role as the hired gunfighter Jack Wilson in Shane. Several Western roles followed, but he also played varied roles such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula and Attila the Hun. Three years before Palance played the role, comic book artist Gene Colan based his interpretation of Dracula for the acclaimed series The Tomb of Dracula on Palance, explaining, "He had that cadaverous look, a serpentine look on his face. I knew that Jack Palance would do the perfect Dracula."[14]

He became a Hollywood leading man, starring in Man in the Attic, followed by mid-1950s films such as The Big Knife, in which he played a conflicted Hollywood movie star, and I Died a Thousand Times, a scene-by-scene remake of High Sierra (1941) with Palance in the role played previously by Humphrey Bogart.

In 1957, Palance won an Emmy Award for best actor for his portrayal of Mountain McClintock in the Playhouse 90 production of Rod Serling's Requiem for a Heavyweight.

Jean-Luc Godard persuaded Palance to take on the role of Hollywood producer Jeremy Prokosch in the nouvelle vague movie Le Mépris (1963). Although the main dialogue was in French, Palance spoke mostly English.

Palance provided narration for the 1967 documentary, And Still Champion! The Story of Archie Moore.

Palance (left) visiting a VA Hospital in 2005

Later, in 1966, he appeared in the television movie Alice Through the Looking Glass, directed by Alan Handley, in which he played the Jabberwock. He had a featured role opposite Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster in the Western adventure The Professionals (1966).

In 1969, Palance recorded a country music album in Nashville, released on Warner Bros. Records. It featured Palance's self-penned song "The Meanest Guy That Ever Lived". The album was re-released on CD in 2003 by the Water label (Water 119).

Palance starred in the television series Bronk between 1975 and 1976 for MGM Television.

In 1980, Jack Palance narrated Canadian filmmaker Halya Kuchmij’s documentary The Strongest Man in the World, about Mike Swistun, a circus strongman who had been a student of Houdini’s. Palance attended the premiere of the film on June 6, 1980 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.[15]

In 1982, Palance began hosting a television revival of Ripley's Believe It or Not!. The weekly series ran from 1982 to 1986 on the American ABC network. The series also starred three different co-hosts from season to season, including Palance's daughter Holly Palance, actress Catherine Shirriff and singer Marie Osmond. Ripley's Believe It or Not! was in rerun syndication on the Sci-fi Channel (UK) and Sci-fi Channel (US) during the 1990s.

Palance's success on Ripley's Believe It or Not! and the international box-office hit of Bagdad Cafe (1987) resulted in a demand for his services. He made memorable appearances in Young Guns (1988), Tango & Cash (1989) and Tim Burton's Batman (1989). He also performed on Roger Waters' first solo album release The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking (1984).

Palance, at the time chairman of the Hollywood Trident Foundation, walked out of a Russian Film Festival in Hollywood in 2004. After being introduced, Palance said, "I feel like I walked into the wrong room by mistake. I think that Russian film is interesting, but I have nothing to do with Russia or Russian film. My parents were born in Ukraine: I'm Ukrainian. I'm not Russian. So, excuse me, but I don't belong here. It's best if we leave."[16] Palance was awarded the title of "People's Artist" by Vladimir Putin, president of Russia; however, Palance refused the title.[17]

In 2001, Palance returned to the recording studio as a special guest on friend Laurie Z's album Heart of the Holidays to narrate the classic poem "The Night Before Christmas".

In 2002, he starred in the television movie Living with the Dead opposite Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen and Diane Ladd. In 2004, he starred in another television production, Back When We Were Grownups, opposite Blythe Danner. This was his final performance.

Four decades after his film debut, Palance won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor on March 30, 1992 for his performance as cowboy Curly Washburn in the comedy City Slickers (1991). Stepping onstage to accept the award, the 6' 4" (1.93 m) actor looked down at 5' 7" (1.70 m) Oscar host Billy Crystal (who was also his co-star in the movie), and joked, mimicking one of his lines from the film, "Billy Crystal... I crap bigger than him." He then dropped to the floor and demonstrated his ability, at age 73, to perform one-handed push-ups.

Years later, Crystal appeared on Inside the Actors Studio and fondly recalled that, after the Oscar ceremony, Palance approached him during the reception: "He stopped me and put his arms out and went, 'Billy Crystal, who thought it would be you?' It was his really funny way of saying thank you to a little New York Jewy guy who got him the Oscars."[18]

In 1993, during the opening of the Oscars, a spoof of that Oscar highlight featured Palance appearing to drag in an enormous Academy Award statuette with Crystal again hosting, riding on the rear end of it. Halfway across the stage, Palance dropped to the ground as if exhausted, but then performed several one-armed push-ups before regaining his feet and dragging the giant Oscar the rest of the way across the stage.

Personal life

Palance lived for several years around Tehachapi, California.

Palance was married to his first wife Virginia Baker from 1949 to 1968. They had three children: Holly (born 1950), Brooke (born 1952), and Cody (1955–1998). On New Year's Day 2003, Baker was struck and killed by a car in Los Angeles.

Palance's daughter Brooke married Michael Wilding, son of Michael Wilding Sr. (1912–1979) and Elizabeth Taylor; they have three children. Cody Palance, an actor himself, appeared alongside his father in the film Young Guns.

In May 1987, Palance married his second wife Elaine Rogers.

Palance painted and sold landscape art, with a poem included on the back of each picture. He was also the author of The Forest of Love, a book of poems published in 1996 by Summerhouse Press.[19] He was a supporter of the Republican Party.[20]

Palance acknowledged a lifelong attachment to his Pennsylvania heritage and visited there when able. Shortly before his death, he sold his farm in Butler Township and put his personal art collection up for auction.[21]


On November 10, 2006, Palance died of natural causes at age 87 at his daughter Holly's home in Montecito, California.[22] His remains were cremated, with his ashes retained by family and friends.[23]


Palance has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6608 Hollywood Boulevard.

In 1992, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

According to writer Mark Evanier, comic book creator Jack Kirby modeled his character Darkseid on the actor.[24]


Year Film Notes
1950 Panic in the Streets
Halls of Montezuma
1952 Sudden Fear Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1953 Shane Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Man in the Attic
Second Chance
Flight to Tangier
1954 The Silver Chalice
Sign of the Pagan as Attila the Hun
1955 The Big Knife
I Died a Thousand Times
Kiss of Fire
1956 Attack
Playhouse 90: Requiem for a Heavyweight (TV)
1957 House of Numbers
The Lonely Man
1958 The Man Inside
1959 Flor De Mayo
Ten Seconds to Hell
1960 Austerlitz
The Barbarians
1961 Sword of the Conqueror
I mongoli
Warriors Five
1962 Night Train to Milan
1963 Contempt
1965 Once a Thief
1966 The Professionals
Alice Through the Looking Glass
1967 Kill a Dragon
Torture Garden
1968 The Mercenary as Curly
1969 Justine
Legion of the Damned
The Desperados as Parson Josiah Galt
Che! as Fidel Castro
1970 Compañeros
Monte Walsh
1971 Horsemen
1972 Chato's Land
It Can Be Done Amigo
1973 Father Jackleg (Originally Tedeum)
Oklahoma Crude
Brothers Blue
1974 Craze
1975 The Great Adventure
The Four Deuces
1976 God's Gun
Mister Scarface
Blood and Bullets
The Cop in Blue Jeans
Black Cobra Woman
1977 Portrait of a Hitman
Welcome to Blood City
1978 The One Man Jury
1979 Angels' Brigade
Cocaine Cowboys lead role
1980 Hawk the Slayer (as Voltan)
Without Warning
1982 Alone In The Dark
1987 Bagdad Café
1988 Gor
Young Guns
1989 Batman as Carl Grissom
Outlaw of Gor
Tango & Cash as Yves Perret
1990 Solar Crisis
1991 City Slickers Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
1993 Cyborg 2
1994 City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold
The Swan Princess voice
Cops & Robbersons
1999 Treasure Island (as Long John Silver)
2002 Talking to Heaven
2003 Between Hitler and Stalin narrator

Television movies/miniseries

Year Title Role
1968 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde
1973 Bram Stoker's Dracula Count Dracula
1974 The Godchild Rourke
1975 The Hatfields and the McCoys Devil Anse Hatfield
1979 The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang Will Smith
1980 The Ivory Ape Marc Kazarian
The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story Whitey Robinson
1981 Evil Stalks This House Stokes
1992 Keep the Change Overstreet
1994 The Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's Lost Classics Dr. Jeremy Wheaton (segment "Where the Dead Are")
1995 Buffalo Girls Bartle Bone
1997 I'll Be Home for Christmas Bob
Ebenezer Ebenezer Scrooge
1998 The Incredible Adventures of Marco Polo Beelzebub
1999 Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End John Witting
2001 Living With the Dead Allan Van Praagh
2004 Back When We Were Grownups Paul 'Poppy' Davitch

Television series

Year Title Role Notes
1950 Lights Out Episode "The Man Who Couldn't Remember"
1952 Westinghouse Studio One Episode "The King in Yellow"
Curtain Call Episode "Azaya"
Westinghouse Studio One Episode "Little Man, Big World"
The Gulf Playhouse Episode "Necktie Party"
1953 Danger Episode "Said the Spider to the Fly"
The Web Episode "The Last Chance"
Suspense Tom Walker Episode "The Kiss-Off"
The Motorola Television Hour Scott Malone/Kurt Bauman Episode "Brandenburg Gate"
Suspense Episode "Cagliostro and the Chess Player"
1955 What's My Line Himself Mystery guest
1956 Playhouse 90 Harlan "Mountain" McClintock "Requiem for a Heavyweight"
Emmy Award for Best Single Performance by an Actor
Zane Grey Theatre Dan Morgan Episode "The Lariat"
1957 Playhouse 90 Monroe Stahr "The Last Tycoon"
Playhouse 90 Manolete "The Death of Manolete"
1963 The Greatest Show on Earth Circus manager Johnny Slate Series – top billing
1964 What's My Line Himself Mystery guest
1965 Convoy Harvey Bell Episode "The Many Colors of Courage"
1966 Run for Your Life Julian Hays Episode "I Am the Late Diana Hays"
Alice Through the Looking Glass Jabberwock (Live Theatre)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Louis Strago 2 episodes "The Concrete Overcoat Affair: Parts I and II"
1968 They Came to Rob Las Vegas
1971 Net Playhouse President Jackson "Trail of Tears"
1973 The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour Himself
1975 Bronk Det. Lt. Alex 'Bronk' Bronkov Series
1979 Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Kaleel Episode "Planet of the Slave Girls"
Unknown Powers Presenter/Narrator
1981 Tales of the Haunted Stokes Episode "Evil Stalks This House"
1982–1986 Ripley's Believe It or Not! Himself – Host Series
2001 Night Visions Jake Jennings Episode "Bitter Harvest"



  1. "Jack Palance Biography (1920?-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  2. "The Last Role of an American "City Slicker" with a Ukrainian Soul". Ukemonde.com. 2006-11-14. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  3. "Entertainment | Veteran western star Palance dies". BBC News. 2006-11-11. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  4. A History of the Polish Americans. Books.google.com. p. 113. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
  6. Boxing Records Official records only show Palance in one sanctioned fight. His other fights may have been club fights.
  7. M. A. SCHMIDT, "PALANCE FROM PANIC TO PAGAN", The New York Times, March 14, 1954, Drama Section X5 In an early interview, Palance claimed to have fought Baksi to a draw
  8. Enk, Bryan. "Real Life Tough Guys". Yahoo.com. Archived from the original on 30 July 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  9. Lawrence Christon, "Home on the Range It's been a long, dusty journey since Panic in the Streets and Shane", The Los Angeles Times, April 30, 1995, Calendar Section In a later interview, Palance admits to have lost to Baksi
  10. "Accomplished Alumni - School of Humanities and Sciences". Humsci.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  11. "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  12. "Jack Palance (1919–2006)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  13. PALANCE FROM 'PANIC' TO 'PAGAN' By M. A. SCHMIDTHOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 14 Mar 1954: X5.
  14. Field, Tom (2005). Secrets in the Shadows: The Art & Life of Gene Colan. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 99.
  15. "Strongest Man In The World on Vimeo". Vimeo.com. 2015-10-07. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  16. "Declaring 'I'm Ukrainian, not Russian', Palance walks out of Russian Film Festival in Hollywood". Ukemonde.com. 2004-06-11. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  17. "Declaring 'I'm Ukrainian, not Russian', Palance walks out of Russian Film Festival in Hollywood". Ukemonde.com. 2004-06-11. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  18. Video on YouTube
  19. The Forest of Love. Summerhouse Press. 1996-01-01. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  20. "The Republicans of Classic Hollywood". fan.tcm.com. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  21. Learn-Andes, Jennifer. "Jump on Jack's stash". TimesLeader.com. Archived from the original on 2006-10-19. Retrieved 2006-10-08.
  22. "Oscar winner Jack Palance dead at 87". CNN.com. 2006-11-11. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  23. "Jack Palance (1919 - 2006) - Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  24. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-26. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
  25. "Jack Palance". All Music. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jack Palance.
Wikinews has related news: "City Slickers" actor, Jack Palance, dies
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/28/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.