Name at birth: Walter Jack Palahniuk
Jack Palance was one of the great movie heavies of the 1950s, when he was often cast as a sinister villain in film noirs, westerns and melodramas. His impressive debut in 1950's Panic in the Streets was followed by Oscar-nominated performances as menacing baddies in Sudden Fear (1952, starring Joan Crawford) and Shane (1953, starring Alan Ladd). He played a has-been boxer in television's Requiem for a Heavyweight (1956) and won an Emmy, but in the 1960s and '70s he made mostly forgettable movies in the U.S. and around the world. His faded career was resurrected in 1989 when he played a mean crime king in Tim Burton's Batman, and his turn as the comically creepy trail boss in City Slickers (1991, co-starring Billy Crystal) earned him an Oscar as best supporting actor. While accepting the prize he showed the crowd his youthful vigor by dropping to the stage to perform one-handed pushups, and the wacky moment became his public signature. He also appeared in the 1994 sequel, City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold.
Some sources give his birth name as Volodymir Ivanovich Palahniuk, saying the name was Americanized to ?Walter Jack? Palahniuk? His 2006 obituary from the Associated Press stated that Palance ?was 85, according to Associated Press records, but his family gave his age as 87?? Palance played Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in the 1969 movie Che!, opposite Omar Sharif (!) as Che Guevara? Jack Palance was badly burned during WWII when a bomber he was piloting crashed; the resulting plastic surgery helped give his face its taut, leathery look.
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