Director Sydney Lumet‘s 1973 undercover police drama Serpico earned Al Pacino his second Oscar nomination for Best Actor. While it was another in a long-running streak of Oscar nominations for Pacino that resulted in no wins until 1992’s Scent of a Woman, Serpico‘s other Oscar nomination was for Best Adapted Screenplay for screenwriters Waldo Salt (Midnight Cowboy, The Day of the Locust) and Norman Wexler (Saturday Night Fever, Staying Alive). Although Serpico proved to be the last Oscar-worthy project of Wexler’s, Waldo Salt had a much longer, and much darker story in Hollywood screenwriting history.
Waldo Salt was born on October 18, 1914 and grew up in Chicago an accomplished academic. He was so accomplished, in fact, that he graduated from Stanford University at the same time his friends were graduating from high school. Shortly thereafter, Salt was in Hollywood working as a screenwriter for MGM. There he worked on and assisted with various writing projects, but his first solo writing adaptation was with a 1937 film called The Bride Wore Red. The next year, Salt joined the American Communist Party, putting himself on the radar for the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare/McCarthy era 12 years later. Continue reading →
Character actor Abe Vigoda passed away earlier this week at the age of 94. According to his daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, the actor died peacefully and had not been suffering from any illnesses. Vigoda spent years working in the New York theater scene before he was cast as the mafia hitman Sal Tessio in Francis Ford Coppola‘s The Godfather. Following the huge success of The Godfather, and The Godfather Part II, Vigoda was cast as Detective Phil Fish in 1975 on the show Barney Miller, which ran until 1982 and earned Vigoda three Emmy Award nominations in 1976, 1977, and 1978 respectively. Ironically enough, the announcement of his death re-sparked an old controversy about whether or not the actor was still alive: a false report stating that Vigoda had died was published in 1986, igniting a controversy among movie-goers and fans as to whether or not the actor was really still alive or had actually died. A website dedicated to Google searches for ‘Is Abe Vigoda really dead?’ was updated this week to respond ‘Yes.’ Regardless of his questionable death status, Vigoda’s roles and contributions to film will be remembered by his co-stars like Al Pacino (Serpico, Heat), Robert Duvall (Apocalypse Now, The Judge), and Hal Linden (Barney Miller, Out To Sea). Abe, you will be missed!
Al Pacino has always been one of the most versatile actors to ever appear on the big screen. Always taking on challenging and original roles, the actor has been nominated for seven Best Actor Oscars, finally winning for Scent of a Woman in 1993 in which he plays an alcoholic/blind colonel out on a mission of self-destruction. Pacino has most recently starred alongside Academy Award Winner Helen Mirren in the HBO biographical film Phil Spector, which chronicles the elicit affair between rock and roll recording legend Phil Spector and his attorney Linda Kenney Baden during his 2003 murder trial.
Pacino’s next project finds him playing an aging 1970s rock star still living an extravagant lifestyle when he finds a letter from John Lennon written to his younger self that causes him to reexamine his life and try to re-discover the music he originally set out to make. Incidentally John Lennon worked very closely with Phil Spector on many of his solo LPs during the early 1970s, right around the time when Pacino was getting notices for The Godfather (1972) and Serpico (1973). Dan Fogelman will be making his directorial debut with this movie, for which he also wrote the screenplay. Imagine is expected for release next year.