Palance, Jack 1919-2006

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Palance, Jack 1919-2006

(Volodymir Ivanovich Palahniuk, Walter Jack Palance)

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born February 18, 1919, in Lattimer Mines, PA; died November 10, 2006, in Montecito, CA. Actor, artist, and author. Palance was an Oscar- and Emmy-winning actor known for his performances in such films as Shane, Sudden Fear, and City Slickers. Growing up in Pennsylvania coal mining country, Palance was born Volodymir Ivanovich Palahniuk. He had no desire to sweat out his life as a miner, and managed to win a football scholarship to the University of North Carolina. He dropped out of college before earning a degree, however, and instead pursued a professional boxing career. Palance did well with a 12-2 record to his credit before deciding that getting beaten up was no way to make a living. By this time, America had entered World War II, and Palance enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces. He became a bomber pilot and suffered serious facial injuries after his plane crashed following an engine failure. Honorably discharged, he next attended Stanford University, where he studied to be a journalist and graduated in 1947. It was after the war, too, that he changed his surname to Palance. The San Francisco Chronicle hired him as a sports writer, but even with earning extra money as a radio broadcaster Palance wanted a better income. He took a friend’s suggestion and traveled to Broadway to see if he could become an actor. This idea met with surprising success, and within a month he was appearing on stage. He was an understudy for Marlon Brando in the famous A Streetcar Named Desire production, and in 1950 Palance was praised for his performance in Darkness at Noon. That same year, he made his film debut with Panic in the Street, where he was credited under the name Walter Palance. Now known as Jack Palance, the actor received Academy Award nominations for his roles in Sudden Fear (1952) and Shane (1953), and he won an Emmy for playing a boxer in 1956’s Requiem for a Heavyweight. By this time, Palance had a reputation for playing tough, often unsympathetic roles. His rough exterior concealed a much softer side, however. While shooting spaghetti Westerns in Italy, he became fascinated by the art world that surrounded him, and consequently took up painting. Favoring abstract and impressionistic styles, he became fairly accomplished as a painter and held several exhibits of his work. He also later showed his sensitive side by penning the poetry book The Forest of Love (1996). Acting, however, was his main vocation. Focusing mostly on film and television work, Palance would continue to work into his eighties. His television credits include starring roles in the series The Greatest Show on Earth (1963-64), Bronk (1975-76), and Ripley’s Believe It or Not (1982-86), and films such as Hell’s Brigade (1969), Portrait of a Hitman (1977), Young Guns (1988), City Slickers (1991), and City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold (1994). It was for the comedy City Slickers that he actually won his first and only Oscar, playing the part of a scary cowboy who whips some soft, urban professionals into shape. Palance wowed audiences during the Oscar ceremony when he did one-handed push-ups on stage to prove he was in top physical condition.



Chicago Tribune, November 11, 2006, Section 1, p. 10.

Los Angeles Times, November 11, 2006, p. B12.

New York Times, November 11, 2006, p. B10; November 15, 2006, p. A2.

Times (London, England), November 13, 2006, p. 62.