Ben Gazzara

Biagio Anthony Gazzarra (August 28, 1930 – February 3, 2012), known as Ben Gazzara, was an American film, stage, and Emmy Award winning television actor and director. Gazzara was born in New York City, the son of Italian immigrants Angelina (née Cusumano) and Antonio Gazzarra, who was a laborer and carpenter. Gazzara grew up in New York's Kips Bay neighborhood; he lived on East 29th Street and participated in the drama program at Madison Square Boys and Girls Club located across the street. He attended New York City's Stuyvesant High School; but finally graduated from Saint Simon Stock in the Bronx. Years later, he said that the discovery of his love for acting saved him from a life of crime during his teen years. He went to City College of New York to study electrical engineering. After two years, he relented. He took classes in acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the influential German director Erwin Piscator and afterward joined the Actors Studio. In 1954, Gazzara (having tweaked his original surname from "Gazzarra") made several appearances on NBC's legal drama Justice, based on case studies from the Legal Aid Society of New York.


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