Actor, Director. He was known for his intensity as a performer and a gifted filmmaker who embraced the method of spontaneous technique. John Nicholas Cassavetes was born in New York City, the son of a Greek businessman, he developed an interest in acting while attending Colgate University, where he studied English and later began his training at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He gained experience with a stock company in Providence, Rhode Island and initiated his TV career during the early 1950s, as he appeared in a string of live episodes from the programs "Robert Montgomery Presents", "Kraft Theatre" and "Climax!", as well as many others. During this period, he served as an assistant stage manager for the Broadway production "The Fifth Season" (1954 to 1955). He would have the starring role in the series "Johnny Staccato" (1959 to 1960), and from the funds he earned during the series' run he financed his first independent project "Shadows" (1959), which received a Pasinetti Award from the Venice Film Festival. The picture established Cassavetes as an important figure in the utilization of improvisation. He went on to have memorable acting credits in "The Killers" (1964), "The Dirty Dozen" (1967, which earned him an Academy Award nomnation as the condemned Victor Franko) and "Rosemary's Baby" (1968). He furthered his reputation as a fine director with "Faces" (1968, receiving an Oscar nomination) which starred his wife Gena Rowlands (whom he married in 1954 and remained with until his death), followed by "Husbands" (1970) and "Minnie and Moskowitz" (1971). He frequented his acting roots and turned out a notable performance opposite his close friend Peter Falk, as the conductor/murderer in a 1972 episode of "Columbo" titled "Etude in Black." He yielded the acclaimed picture "A Woman Under the Influence" (1974, earning an Academy Award nomination), which starred Falk (whom co-financed the film) and Rowlands. Cassavetes would also direct another close friend Ben Gazzara in the pictures "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" (1976) and "Opening Night" (1977). He died of complications from cirrhosis of the liver. He was the father of actor Nick Cassavetes.
Bio by: C.S.