3/26/1934 (85 years old) Brooklyn, New York, United States
New York-born but Los Angeles-bred, Alan Arkin got his start in show business as the lead singer of the 1950s folk trio The Tarriers and recorded four albums of children's songs with The Babysitters. But acting was his true calling and in 1959 Arkin joined a new sketch-comedy troupe called Second City in Chicago. The move to the Windy City jump-started his acting career and led to his Broadway debut in the 1961 revue From the Second City. Two years later, Arkin picked up a Tony for his hilarious performance in Enter Laughing, and in 1966 he earned an Oscar nod for his first major film appearance as a Soviet submariner in the Cold War comedy The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. A second Oscar nomination for his dramatic turn as a deaf mute in 1968's The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter proved he could do more than provoke laughs, as did his chilling portrayal of a killer in the Audrey Hepburn thriller Wait Until Dark. In 1969, Arkin won a Drama Desk Award for helming the black comedy Little Murders off-Broadway and later directed the film version. His next big success was supposed to be the Mike Nichols directed Catch-22, but the movie bombed and stalled Arkin's film career for the first part of the 1970s. But the hard-scrambling actor never lacked work, turning up in so-so pictures such as Freebie and the Bean and Last of the Red Hot Lovers. Broadway was more kind. Arkin directed Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys on the Great White Way in 1972 and earned another Tony nod. The late 1970s saw Arkin rebound with winning performances in the Sherlock Holmes caper The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and the uproarious The In-Laws. In the '80s and '90s, Arkin continued to land meaty roles on TV, earning Emmy nods as a concentration-camp prisoner focused on freedom in Escape from Sobibor and a guest spot on his son Adam's series Chicago Hope,and in films, most notably as part of the great ensemble cast of Glengarry Glen Ross. The 2000s brought even more acclaim: an Emmy nomination for The Pentagon Papers and an overdue Oscar for the lauded 2006 indie smash Little Miss Sunshine. Since his Academy Award triumph, Arkin's continued to land solid supporting roles in high-profile projects, both comedic (Get Smart) and dramatic (Rendition).