“If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”*
Eli Wallach played the bad guy in the first movie I ever saw at the movies. He was Charlie Gant in How the West Was Won (1962)–the guy who attempts to rob the train, but is thwarted by the good guy, George Peppard.
It was a typical part for the ethnically ambiguous Wallach. A Jew from Brooklyn, he played many Mexican and Greek and Italian villains, including Calvera in The Magnificent Seven (1960), Stratos in The Moon-Spinners (1964) and countless others over the years. Like Ward Bond, he is always turning up in movies.
But Eli Wallach has died–at age 98! You can read about him here. I learned some fun facts about Eli, such as–although from New York, he went to the University of Texas in Austin where he learned to ride a horse. This came in very handy later in his movie career, right? He served five years in the Medical Corps during WWII, rising to captain. After the war he became a founding member of the Actors Studio and studied method acting with Lee Strasberg. He won a Tony Award, but no Oscars. He was married to the same woman for a very long time. She survives him.
Yes, he was quite a guy.
So let’s raise a toast to Eli Wallach tonight. I’m sure you have a movie in your own collection: How to Steal a Million (1966), Lord Jim (1965), The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966)…or The Holiday (2006)?
TCM will celebrate Eli Wallach this Monday with a five film tribute.
Into paradise may the angels lead thee; and at thy coming may the martyrs receive thee, and bring thee into the holy city Jerusalem.
–BCP, Burial of the Dead, Rite I
*Calvera in The Magnificent Seven (1960)