Movie Fact #818 – April 11th, 2015:

Actor John Cazale was an actor who was popular in the 1970’s. He died of lung cancer very young at the age of 1942 on March 12, 1978. He was most famous for playing the character of Fredo Corleone in “The Godfather” in 1972, “The Godfather: Part II” in 1974, and in “The Godfather: Part III” in 1990 through archive footage. He was a close friend and frequent co-star to actor Al Pacino who collaborated with him on the first two “The Godfather” films and “Dog Day Afternoon” in 1975, along with various stage productions.

He never received an Oscar nomination, according to Bruce Fretts, he “was the walking embodiment of the aphorism acting is reacting, providing the perfect counterbalance to his recurring co-stars, the more emotionally volatile Al Pacino and Robert De Niro”. In fact, Pacino once commented: “All I wanted to do was work with John for the rest of my life. He was my acting partner.”

Cazale only appeared in 5 films in his career, 6 if you include his archive footage in “The Godfather: Part III”. His career only lasted 6 years, not counting his success Broadway career before that. “The Godfather”, 1975’s “The Conversation”, “The Godfather: Part II”, “Dog Day Afternoon”, and 1978’s “The Deer Hunter”. Notice what they have in common? They all were nominated for Best Picture, with “The Godfather”, “The Godfather: Part II”, and “The Deer Hunter” winning in their respective years. This makes Cazale a rarity in that all the films he was in were nominated for Best Picture.

In fact, even after being diagnosed with lung cancer, Cazale continued work with his romantic partner, actress Meryl Streep, to finish “The Deer Hunter” and died shortly after filming. Pacino also noted this factor that he worked so hard even as he was dying.

Not all actors are the lead players. Some are the ones in the background, the ones you hardly notice or who play the less than iconic roles. Cazale had a six-year career and did more in that time than most actors do in decades. Time doesn’t define greatness, nor does popularity. Dedication and love for your profession do this. And Cazale, it would seem, was the true definition of making your life count, even when time didn’t allow you much to work with.

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Published in: on April 11, 2015 at 11:08 PM  Leave a Comment  

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