Anthony Franciosa: Actor (1928 - 2006)
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Anthony Franciosa

Anthony Franciosa

Anthony Franciosa
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Actor
Was Actor Stage actor Film actor Television actor
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 25 October 1928, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Death 19 January 2006, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A. (aged 77 years)
Spouse: Shelley Winters
The details (from wikipedia)


Anthony Franciosa (born Anthony George Papaleo, October 25, 1928 – January 19, 2006) was an American film, TV and stage actor. He began as a successful stage actor, gaining a Tony Award nomination for the drug-addiction play A Hatful of Rain. After relocating to Hollywood he made numerous feature films, including A Face in the Crowd (1957), The Long, Hot Summer (1958) , and Career (1959), for which he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor/Drama. In television he played lead roles in five television series: the sitcom Valentine's Day (1964–65), drama The Name of the Game (1968–71), Search (1972–73), Matt Helm (1975) and Finder of Lost Loves (1984).

Early life

Born to an Italian-American family (his grandparents emigrated from Melfi, Basilicata, in the center of the boot of Southern Italy, in 1890), and raised by his mother and aunt, he adopted his mother's maiden name Franciosa as his professional name.


In 1948, Franciosa joined the Cherry Lane Theatre Group off Broadway (at the same time as actress Bea Arthur). Within two years, he had been accepted as a member of the Actors Studio, which would prove an invaluable resource going forward but it would be a few years more before Franciosa could make a living from acting. In the meantime, he worked a variety of jobs which included being a waiter, dishwasher, day laborer, and messenger boy. Several years later he garnered rave reviews and a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway performance of the play A Hatful of Rain.

With Robert Stack and Gene Barry in the TV series The Name of the Game (1968)

Franciosa reprised his role in the film version in 1957, earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Roles in several major films followed, including A Face in the Crowd (1957) with Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal, The Naked Maja (1958) with Ava Gardner, The Long Hot Summer (also 1958) with Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, and Orson Welles, Career (1959) with Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine, Period of Adjustment (1962) with Jane Fonda, The Pleasure Seekers (1964) with Ann-Margret and Carol Lynley, Fathom (1967) with Raquel Welch, Across 110th Street (1972) with Anthony Quinn, The Drowning Pool (1975) with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and Rio Conchos with Richard Boone and Stuart Whitman. He also appeared in a prominent co-starring role in the Frank Sinatra film Assault on a Queen (1966) and was later in the 70s film of the Jackie Collins book The World Is Full of Married Men.

Franciosa guest-starred in the television series The Greatest Show on Earth, Jack Palance's circus drama, which aired on ABC from 1963–1964. That same season, he appeared in the ABC medical drama about psychiatry, Breaking Point.

Producer David Dortort was on the verge of casting him as Cameron Mitchell's best friend and brother-in-law, Manolito Montoya, on the western, The High Chaparral, if Henry Darrow did not make it to the set in time. Darrow did.

With Laraine Stephens in a publicity photo for the TV series Matt Helm in 1975

Eager to act in any medium, he became a series lead in the sitcom Valentine's Day and drama TV series The Name of the Game (and its pilot TV-movie Fame Is the Name of the Game), as lead role of charismatic but doggedly determined star reporter Jeff Dillon, alternating the regular lead spot with Gene Barry and Robert Stack. He was fired from the series because of his temper. He had a further alternating lead role, this time alongside Hugh O'Brian and Doug McClure, as agent Nick Bianco in Search, and then on his own in Matt Helm, a spinoff of the spy-spoof films that starred Dean Martin. He also played roles in all-star television miniseries, such as Aspen (1977) and Wheels (1978).

In the 1980s, Franciosa starred in the Aaron Spelling-produced series Finder of Lost Loves. Franciosa also made notable guest star appearances as a villain in the Western series The Virginian (episode "Holocaust," aka "The Shiloh Years") and later The Men from Shiloh, plus was star of the Theatre of Stars episode "A Case of Armed Robbery" convincingly playing a man with feelings of alienation from a society driven to crime. In the 1985 revival of The Twilight Zone, he appeared in the third-season episode "Crazy As a Soup Sandwich," playing a gangster who is revealed to be the ultimate demon.

Franciosa's final film was City Hall, a 1996 drama starring Al Pacino and John Cusack, in which he portrayed a New York City crime boss.

In his autobiography, The Garner Files, actor James Garner stated that Franciosa, on the set of A Man Could Get Killed, constantly abused the stunt crew by not pulling punches in fight scenes, resulting in a physical confrontation with Garner.

In his memoir, From I Love Lucy to Shōgun and Beyond: Tales from the Other Side of the Camera, Jerry London stated that Franciosa could not remember his lines during the shooting of the television movie Wheels, so co-star Rock Hudson had to hold up cue cards for him during one scene in a car.


Billed as "Anthony Franciosa," he won the 1960 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for the role "Sam Lawson" in Career (1959), opposite Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine. He had won the Globe competing with actors Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur, Richard Burton in Look Back in Anger, Fredric March in Middle of the Night and Joseph Schildkraut as Otto Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank.

In 1958, Franciosa had been nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Polo Pope in the film version of A Hatful of Rain (1957), opposite Eva Marie Saint and Don Murray as his brother, Johnny, a morphine addict.

Personal life

Franciosa was married four times, and had three children. His first marriage, to writer Beatrice Bakalyar in 1952, ended in divorce in 1957. That May 4 he married Oscar-winning actress Shelley Winters; the couple divorced in 1960.

He next wed the former Judith Balaban, daughter of Barney Balaban, and author of the book, The Bridesmaids, about her friend Princess Grace of Monaco, in whose wedding she served as a bridesmaid. This union produced Franciosa's only daughter, Nina.

A final marriage, to Rita Theil on November 27, 1970, lasted until his death in 2006. The pair had two sons, organic farmer Marco and actor Christopher.

When asked about Franciosa's hair-trigger temper Theil said, "He was never taught how to control his temper ... I changed him a lot ... We still have good fights once in a while, but I can scream back at him."

Franciosa, reflecting about Theil's influence on him, said,

"It took years of therapy and simply living through things to finally accept and enjoy myself. My wife Rita's influence has been profound in that process. Her family was a product of The Great Disaster — World War II. She emerged from the flames with a remarkable buoyancy. Each day she rises with an optimism, a serenity toward life that is certainly contagious. Does that sound romantic? If so, so be it."

During his later years, Franciosa lived in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. He died on January 19, 2006, at age 77 at neargy UCLA Medical Center after suffering a massive stroke.

Selected filmography

  • This Could Be the Night (1957) - Tony Armotti
  • A Face in the Crowd (1957) - Joey DePalma
  • A Hatful of Rain (1957) - Polo Pope
  • Wild Is the Wind (1957) - Bene
  • The Long, Hot Summer (1958) - Jody Varner
  • The Naked Maja (1958) - Francisco Jose de Goya
  • Career (1959) - Sam Lawson
  • The Story on Page One (1959) - Victor Santini
  • Go Naked in the World (1961) - Nick Stratton
  • Careless (1962) - Emilio Brentani
  • Period of Adjustment (1962) - Ralph Bates
  • Rio Conchos (1964) - Rodriguez
  • The Pleasure Seekers (1964) - Emilio Lacayo
  • A Man Could Get Killed (1966) - Steve / Antonio
  • Assault on a Queen (1966) - Vic Rossiter
  • The Swinger (1966) - Ric Colby
  • Fame Is the Name of the Game (1966) - Jeff Dillon
  • Fathom (1967) - Peter Merriwether
  • A Man Called Gannon (1968) - Gannon
  • The Sweet Ride (1968) - Collie Ransom
  • In Enemy Country (1968) - Charles
  • Web of the Spider (1971) - Alan Foster
  • Earth II (1971) - Frank Karger
  • Across 110th Street (1972) - Nick D'Salvio
  • Ghost in the Noonday Sun (1973) - Pierre Rodriguez
  • The Drowning Pool (1975) - Broussard
  • Curse of the Black Widow (1977) - Mark Higbie
  • Firepower (1979) - Dr. Charles Félix
  • The World Is Full of Married Men (1979) - David Cooper
  • The Cricket (1980) - Annibale Meneghetti, detto Ulisse
  • Help Me Dream (1981) - Ray
  • Death Wish II (1982) - Herman Baldwin, LA Police Commissioner
  • Kiss My Grits (1982) - Charlie Karkas
  • Tenebrae (1982) - Peter Neal
  • Julie Darling (1983) - Harold Wilding
  • Blood Vows: The Story of a Mafia Wife (1987) - Lou Di Luca
  • Zombie Death House (1987) - Vic Moretti
  • La morte è di moda (1989) - Commissioner Rizzo
  • Ghost Writer (1989) - Vincent Carbone
  • Backstreet Dreams (1990) - Angelo
  • Double Threat (1993) - Crocker Scott
  • El caçador furtiu (1995) - Walter
  • City Hall (1996) - Paul Zapatti
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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