James Caan Biography

James Caan photo

Born: March 26, 1939


Date of Birth: March 26, 1939

Born in the Bronx and raised in Queens, New York, James Caan knew early on that he did not want to follow in his father's footsteps and work in the family meat business. He entered Michigan State University at age 16 to study economics and play football. He then transferred to Hofstra Universiy to study law, and during a spring break, was accepted into Stanford Meisner's Neighborhood playhouse. Caan won a scholarship to study with Wynn Handman, then went on to get the first four jobs he auditioned for in the theater.

Caan then landed in television playing guest appearances on Naked City and Route 66 to making regular appearances on Wagon Train, The Untouchables, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. During his experience on television, Caan became a busy character actor.

He made his film debut in an unbilled performance in 1963's Irma La Douce, followed by a meatier role in Lady in a Cage the following year.

Caan shot to fame thanks to a poignant performance in the 1970 television movie Brian's Song, in which he played the ill-fated Chicago Bears star Brian Piccolo. His turn as the similarly ill-fated Sonny Corleone in Coppola's 1972 masterpiece The Godfather solidified his stardom and earned an Academy Award nomination.

However, his subsequent films, including Slither and Freebie and the Bean, failed to live up to expectations. After earning a Golden Globe bid for his work in 1974's The Gambler, Caan briefly appeared in 1974's The Godfather Part II before co-starring with Barbra Streisand in the hit Funny Lady, followed by the futuristic parable Rollerball.

But then Caan's career took a downward turn, and apart from cameo appearances in both Mel Brooks' Silent Movie and the star-studded A Bridge Too Far, he was largely absent from screens for a time.

Finally, in 1987 Caan resurfaced, starring in Coppola's war drama Gardens of Stone; the next year's science-fiction picture Alien Nation was a hit, as was his next major project, Rob Reiner's 1990 feature Misery. After 1991's For the Boys failed to connect with audiences, Caan has spent most of his onscreen time in prominent supporting roles, his most recent being the drama Detachment (2012) and the comedy That's My Boy (2012).

Married four times, Cann has five kids. He has been married to Linda Stokes since 1995, and they have two sons, James and Jacob. His eldest son, Scott Caan, with second wife Sheila Ryan, is following in his father's footsteps with roles in big Hollywood films such as Ocean's Eleven. Caan has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6648 Hollywood Boulevard.

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