We tune up the search engine once again for Ron’s Amazing Stories true or false. This time we focus on another American icon, Burt Lancaster. Let’s start with the truth.
True – Burt Lancaster was not only was one of America’s darlings, but his background was the stuff of legend. He was one of five children, born in 1913 in Manhattan, NY, and was a tough street kid who took an early interest in gymnastics.
Burt joined the circus as an acrobat?
True – Lancaster met Nick Cravat, with whom he developed a lifelong partnership. Together they learned to act in local theatre productions and circus arts at Union Settlement. Together they formed the acrobat duo Lang and Cravat in the 1930s and joined the Kay Brothers Circus. They continued this until Burt was injured and had to give up the circus life.
Burt didn’t find acting until after World War II?
False – It was in the Army during WW II that he was introduced to the USO and acting. At first he liked the idea of acting, but it was not his first choice for a career. He tried out for the play, A Sound of Hunting and his performance attracted the interest of Hollywood agent, Harold Hecht. This lead to an eight-movie contract and his first film, The Killers (1946).
Burt attended some the finest acting schools in the world?
False – He was a self-taught actor who learned the business as he went along. Lancaster sought demanding roles, and was prepared to work for less pay than he might have earned elsewhere. He even helped to finance movies in whose artistic value he believed in.
Burt became a producer/director in the later stages of his career?
True – He chose not to sign with a major studio. Harold Hecht promised him the opportunity to produce their own movies within five years of hitting Hollywood. Hecht kept his promise and the two formed a partnership production company under the name Norma Productions (the duo later changed the company’s name to Hecht-Lancaster Productions). He also mentored directors such as Sydney Pollack and John Frankenheimer and appeared in several of the firms films. Including Lancaster’s last film, Field of Dreams (1989) .
Burt Lancaster never won an Oscar?
False – Lancaster made many great films during his career: Criss Cross (1949), The Crimson Pirate (1952), Trapeze (1956), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Train (1964), Atlantic City (1980), and many others. He was nominated for an Oscar four times, and took home the golden statuette for the title role in Elmer Gantry (1960). In addition, his company produced several successful films, most notably the Best Picture Oscar-winner, Marty (1955).
Burt Lancaster lead an impressive life. He made many films and produced or directed many more. He held actors Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando in high esteem and said that they were the only two men whose talent intimidated him. Lancaster died in his Century City apartment in Los Angeles from a heart attack in 1994 at the age of 80.
This Week’s Podcast:
On the podcast this week we will feature Burt Lancaster in a reprise of his role as a diamond thief in Rope of Sand. You can listen to this podcast on Thursday at Ron’s Amazing Stories, download it from iTunes, stream it on TuneIn Radio or listen to it on your radio Saturday night at 6pm Eastern time. Check your local listing or find the station closest to you at this link.