UNITED STATES: Alan Arkin, a remarkably versatile and prolific American actor renowned for his exceptional performances in both comedic and dramatic roles and who won an Oscar for his portrayal of a heroin-using grandfather in the 2006 movie Little Miss Sunshine, has passed away at the age of 89, his family stated.
In a heartfelt joint statement, Arkin’s sons Adam, Matthew, and Anthony expressed their sentiments, saying, “Our father was a uniquely talented force of nature, both as an artist and a man. A loving husband, father, grandparent, and great-grandfather, he was adored and will be deeply missed.”
Arkin passed away at his residence in Carlsbad, California, on Thursday, as reported by Variety. Throughout his career, he appeared in numerous films, receiving four Academy Award nominations and securing a Tony Award in 1963 for his notable performance in Carl Reiner’s Enter Laughing on Broadway.
In his first significant film role, Arkin received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his portrayal of a Soviet sailor in the 1966 Cold War comedy The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!
Interestingly, Arkin initially faced rejection for the part in Little Miss Sunshine, which later earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The directors initially deemed him too healthy for the character, as the role required him to portray a foul-mouthed 80-year-old grandfather who was shaky and frail due to years of drug abuse and reckless behaviour.
In a 2007 interview with a US-based media portal, the actor recalled and said that it was the best rejection he had ever experienced in his life because they had deemed him to be too virulent as he flexed his biceps and assumed a muscleman pose.
Arkin’s performance as a psychopathic killer in the 1967 film Wait Until Dark, alongside Audrey Hepburn, left a lasting impact. Reflecting on his portrayal, he admitted discomfort with the scenes where his character terrorises Hepburn, stating, he didn’t like being cruel to her and It made him very uncomfortable.
In 1968, Arkin delivered a remarkable performance as a deaf mute in the film adaptation of Carson McCullers’ novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, earning his second Academy Award nomination for best actor.
In 1970, he starred in a movie version of Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22, giving a solid performance. However, despite his commendable acting, the movie was ultimately deemed a disappointment.
He also garnered praise for his work in the 2012 thriller Argo, which depicted a real-life CIA operation to release six Americans from Iran by passing them off as cast members of an intricately fabricated but fictional alien movie. The movie, directed by Ben Affleck, won the Academy Award for best picture.
Alan Arkin remained active in the film and television industries well into his 80s, showcasing his incredible range as an actor. One of his notable achievements was receiving praise and Emmy nominations for his role in the TV series The Kominsky Method, which premiered in 2018 and also starred Michael Douglas.
Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt tweeted, “Did ANYONE have the range Alan Arkin had? Hilarious, sinister, insane, tragic. No mood he couldn’t live in.”
Throughout his career, Arkin appeared in various noteworthy films. In 1976, he starred in The Seven-Percent Solution, followed by The In-Laws in 1979. In 1990, he became a part of the cast of Edward Scissorhands, and in 1992, he delivered a memorable performance in Glengarry Glen Ross.
His other notable featurette include Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), The Slums of Beverly Hills (1998), Get Smart (2008), Sunshine Cleaning (2008), Stand Up Guys (2012), and Going in Style (2017). Alan Arkin’s versatility and talent left a lasting impact on the entertainment industry.
Despite his diverse career, not all of Alan Wolf Arkin’s movies achieved success. As an example, he once mentioned that he took on the film Freebie and the Bean in 1974 because he needed “the bread.”
Alan Wolf Arkin was born on March 26, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York City. However, when he was 11 years old, his family relocated to Los Angeles. During the notorious “Red Scare” of the 1950s, his father, who worked as a painter and writer, faced accusations of being a communist, which led to him losing his job.
Arkin’s involvement in the arts began early on, as he became an original member of Second City, a renowned improvisational comedy troupe in Chicago. Additionally, he showcased his musical talents by singing in a folk group that gained recognition for their rendition of the 1950s hit single “The Banana Boat Song,” popularised by Harry Belafonte.
Arkin expanded his artistic pursuits by working as a movie and stage director, making numerous TV appearances, and even authoring several books.
Arkin is survived by his loving wife, Suzanne, along with three sons, four grandchildren, and an adored great-grandson.