Actors

16 Popular Secrets Revealed About James Caan

1. For his role in The Godfather, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

2. Caan was born on March 26, 1940 in The Bronx, New York, the son of Sophie and Arthur Caan, Jewish immigrants from Germany. He was educated in New York City, and later attended Michigan State University.

3. He later transferred to Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, but did not graduate.

4. His classmates at Hofstra included Lainie Kazan and Francis Ford Coppola.

5. There, one of his instructors was Sanford Meisner. He studied at the school for five years.

6. Caan began appearing on off-Broadway before making his Broadway debut with Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole.

7. He began appearing in such television series as The Untouchables, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Combat!, Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare, The Wide Country, Alcoa Premiere, Route 66, and Naked City.

8. For example, in “The Hunt” on episode 9, season 1 for Suspense Theater, he was the young surfer being hunted by the sadistic sheriff played by Mickey Rooney.

9. In 1964, he starred as Jewish athlete Jeff Brubaker in the episode “My Son, the All-American” of Channing, a drama about college life.

10. His first substantial film role was as a punk hoodlum in the 1964 thriller Lady in a Cage, which starred Olivia de Havilland.

11. In 1966, Caan appeared as Alan Bourdillion Traherne, aka Mississippi, in El Dorado, with John Wayne and Robert Mitchum.

12. In 1969, his appearance on the spy sitcom Get Smart was uncredited, billed as “Rupert of Rathskeller as Himself”; in that same year he won praise for his role as a brain-damaged football player in The Rain People directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

13. The following year, Coppola cast him as the short-tempered Sonny Corleone in The Godfather.

14. Originally, Caan was cast as Michael Corleone ; both Coppola and Caan demanded that this role be played by Al Pacino, so Caan could play Sonny instead.

15. Although another actor was already signed to play Sonny, the studio insisted on having Caan, so he remained in the production.

16. Caan was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the film, competing with co-stars Robert Duvall and Pacino. Caan was closely identified with the role for years afterward: “They called me a wiseguy.

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