F. Murray Abraham

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F. Murray Abraham
F Murray.Abraham cropped.jpg
F. Murray Abraham, 2008
BornMurray Abraham
(1939-10-24) October 24, 1939 (age 74)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
OccupationActor
Years active1971–present
Spouse(s)Kate Hannan (m. 1962)
 
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F. Murray Abraham
F Murray.Abraham cropped.jpg
F. Murray Abraham, 2008
BornMurray Abraham
(1939-10-24) October 24, 1939 (age 74)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
OccupationActor
Years active1971–present
Spouse(s)Kate Hannan (m. 1962)

F. Murray Abraham (born Murray Abraham;[1][2] October 24, 1939)[3] is an American actor. He became widely known during the 1980s after winning the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Antonio Salieri in Amadeus (1984). He has appeared in many roles, both leading and supporting, in films such as All the President's Men (1976), Scarface (1983), The Name of the Rose (1986), Finding Forrester (2000), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). He is also known for his television and theatre work and is now a regular cast member on the award-winning TV series Homeland.

Early life[edit]

Abraham was born Murray Abraham in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Josephine (née Stello), a housewife, and Frederick Abraham, an auto mechanic.[3][4] His father was an Assyrian Christian[5][6] who immigrated from Syria during the 1920s famine; his paternal grandfather was a chanter in the Syriac Orthodox Church.[3] His mother, one of fourteen children, was Italian American, and the daughter of an immigrant who worked in the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania.[3] Abraham added "F." to his stage name in honor of his father's first name.[1] He has stated "Murray Abraham just doesn't seem to say anything. It just is another name, so I thought I'd frame it".[2] Abraham was raised in El Paso, Texas, near the Mexican border. He attended Vilas Grammar School, and graduated from El Paso High School in 1958.[7] He was a gang member during his teenage years.[3] He attended Texas Western College (later named University of Texas at El Paso), where he was given the best actor award by Alpha Psi Omega for his portrayal of the Indian Nocona in Comanche Eagle during the 1959–60 season. He attended the University of Texas at Austin, then studied acting under Uta Hagen in New York City. He began his acting career on the stage, debuting in a Los Angeles production of Ray Bradbury's The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.

Career[edit]

Film and television[edit]

Abraham made his screen debut as an usher in the George C. Scott comedy They Might Be Giants (1971). By the mid-'70s, Murray had steady employment as an actor, doing commercials and voice-overs. Abraham can be seen as one of the undercover police officers along with Al Pacino in Sidney Lumet's Serpico (1973), and in television roles including the bad guy in one third-season episode of Kojak. He played a cab driver in the theatrical version of The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975), a mechanic in the theatrical version of The Sunshine Boys (1975), and one of the police officers in the film All the President's Men (1976) who arrests the Watergate burglars at the offices of the Democratic National Headquarters.

Despite these small roles, Abraham continued to do commercials and voice-over work for income. But in 1978, he decided to give them up. Frustrated with the lack of substantial roles, Abraham said, "No one was taking my acting seriously. I figured if I didn't do it, then I'd have no right to the dreams I've always had." His wife, Kate Hannan, went to work as an assistant and Abraham became a "house husband." He described, "I cooked and cleaned and took care of the kids. It was very rough on my macho idea of life. But it was the best thing that ever happened to me."[8] Until his acclaimed role in Amadeus (1984), Abraham was perhaps best known to audiences as drug dealer Omar Suárez alongside Pacino again in the gangster film Scarface (1983). He also gained visibility playing a talking bunch of grapes in a series of television commercials for Fruit of the Loom underwear.[9]

Abraham won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as envious composer Antonio Salieri in Amadeus (1984), an award for which Tom Hulce, playing Mozart in that movie, had also been nominated. He also won a Golden Globe, among other awards, and his role in the film, directed by Miloš Forman, is still his most iconic.

After Amadeus, he next appeared in The Name of the Rose (1986), in which he played Bernardo Gui, nemesis to Sean Connery's William of Baskerville. His director on the film, Jean-Jacques Annaud, has described Abraham—perhaps jokingly—as an "egomaniac" on the set, who considered himself more important than Sean Connery, since Connery did not have an Oscar.[10] That said, the film was a critical success.[11]

Though Abraham had fewer prominent roles in the next decade or so, he also became known for his roles in Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Ahdar Ru'afo in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), and Gus Van Sant's Finding Forrester (2000), where he once again played nemesis to Connery. He also had a significant role in The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), but chose not to be credited due to a contract dispute.[12]

Abraham's relatively low-profile film career subsequent to his Academy Award has been widely considered an example of the "Oscar jinx". According to film critic Leonard Maltin, professional failure following an early success is referred to in Hollywood circles as the "F. Murray Abraham syndrome".[13] Abraham rejected this notion and told Maltin, "The Oscar is the single most important event of my career. I have dined with kings, shared equal billing with my idols, lectured at Harvard and Columbia. If this is a jinx, I'll take two." In the same interview, Abraham said, "Even though I won the Oscar, I can still take the subway in New York, and nobody recognizes me. Some actors might find that disconcerting, but I find it refreshing."

After an extended period of low profile work, Abraham has recently been more prolific with mainstream film and television appearances. These have included guest appearances on popular television series such as Saving Grace, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Louie, among others, as well as a recurring role on The Good Wife. Additionally, Abraham has worked as the primary narrator for the PBS series Nature for 32 episodes spanning 2007–2010.[14] Most notably, starting in 2013, Abraham has had a starring role in Showtime's drama series Homeland as mysterious black ops specialist Dar Adal.

He has recently appeared in prominent supporting roles in two widely acclaimed films: as a folk music impresario in the Coen brothers' drama Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) and Mr. Moustafa in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).

Theater[edit]

Since Amadeus, he has mainly focused on classical theatre, and has starred in many Shakespearean productions such as Othello and Richard III. He was highlighted in many other plays by the likes of Samuel Beckett and Gilbert and Sullivan, and played the lead in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (for which he received an Obie Award).

Abraham has focused on stage work throughout his career, giving notable performances as Pozzo in Mike Nichols's production of Waiting for Godot, Malvolio in Twelfth Night for the New York Shakespeare Festival, and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice for the Off Broadway Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) in March 2007, which was performed at the Duke Theatre in New York and also at The Swan Theatre, part of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He reprised this role in February 2011, when he replaced Al Pacino in the Public Theater's production. In the 1997/98 Broadway season he starred in the new chamber musical Triumph of Love opposite Betty Buckley, based on Marivaux's classic comedy. The production did not find a large audience, running 85 performances, after its pre-opening preview period.[15] He has also taught theater at Brooklyn College.

Personal life[edit]

Abraham has been married to Kate Hannan since 1962; they have two children,[16] Mick and Jamili, and one grandchild.[17]

In January 2010, Abraham was the on-the-scene hero of a real-life crime scene at the Classic Stage Company in New York, when he traded blows with a thief in the dressing room area during a public rehearsal.[18]

Filmography[edit]

YearTitleRoleNotes
1971They Might Be GiantsClyde
1973SerpicoSerpico's partnerUncredited
1975The Prisoner of Second AvenueTaxi driver
1975The Sunshine BoysCar mechanic
1976All the President's MenPaul Leeper
1976The RitzChris
1978The Big FixEppis
1983ScarfaceOmar Suárez
1984AmadeusAntonio SalieriAcademy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
1986The Name of the RoseBernardo Gui
1989The FavoriteAbdul Hamid
1989An Innocent ManVirgil Cane
1989SlipstreamCornelius
1989Beyond the StarsDr. Harry Bertram
1989Eye of the WidowKharoun
1990The Bonfire of the VanitiesD.A. Abe WeissUncredited
1990CadenceCapt. Ramon GarciaUncredited
1991MobstersArnold Rothstein
1991MoneyWill Scarlet
1991By the SwordMax Suba
1993Last Action HeroDetective John Practice
1993Through an Open WindowNarratorShort film
1993National Lampoon's Loaded WeaponDr. Harold Leacher
1993Journey To The Center Of The EarthProfessor HarlechTelevision film
1994Surviving the GameWolfe Sr.
1994FreshChess HustlerUncredited
1995Mighty AphroditeLeader
1996Children of the RevolutionJoseph Stalin
1997MimicDr. Gates
1997EruptionPresident Mendoza
1998Star Trek: InsurrectionAd’har Ru’afo
1999Excellent CadaversTommaso BuscettaTelevision film
1999Muppets From SpaceNoahCameo
2000The DarklingBruno RubinTelevision film
2000Finding ForresterProf. Robert Crawford
2000David ProshkerNarratorShort film
2001I cavalieri che fecero l'impresaDelfinello da Coverzano
2001Thir13en GhostsCyrus Kristicos
2002TickerAirport GuruShort film
2002JoshuaFather Tardone
2003Five Moons SquareThe Entity
2003Rua Alguem 5555: My FatherPaul Minsky
2004Another Way of Seeing ThingsNarratorShort film
2004Too Much Romance... It's Time for Stuffed PeppersJeffrey
2004The Bridge of San Luis ReyViceroy of Peru
2006The Stone MerchantShahid
2006Quiet Flows the DonPantaley
2006The InquiryNathan
2007Wine and KissesRuggero
2007Blood MonkeyProfessor HamiltonDirect-to-DVD
2008Shark SwarmBill GirdlerTelevision film
2008Carnera - The Walking MountainLéon Sée
2008A House DividedGrandfather Wahid
2009PerestroikaProf. Gross
2009BarbarossaSiniscalco Barozzi
2010The Unseen WorldJohn Henry Newman
2012Goltzius and the Pelican CompanyThe Margrave of Alsace
2012September Eleven 1683Father Marco d'Aviano
2013Dead Man DownGregor
2013Inside Llewyn DavisBud Grossman
2013The Gambler Who Wouldn't DieBraque
2014The Grand Budapest HotelMr. Moustafa
2014The Mystery of DanteDante Alter Ego
2014A Little GameNorman Wallach

Television[edit]

YearTitleRoleNotes
1976All in the FamilyClerkEpisode: "The Unemployment Story: Part 1"
1982–1983Marco PoloJacopo6 episodes
1986Dream WestAbraham LincolnTV miniseries
1996Dead Man's WalkCaptain Caleb CobbTV miniseries
2003Kingdom of David: The Saga of the IsraelitesNarratorTelevision documentary
2003Pompeii: The Last DayNarratorTelevision documentary
2010Bored to DeathProfessor Richard HawkesEpisode: "I've Been Living Like a Demented God!"
2010Law & Order: Criminal IntentDr. Theodore NicholsEpisode: "Three-In-One"
2011–2012, 2014The Good WifeBurl Preston4 episodes
2011–2012, 2014LouieJohn / Uncle Excelsior / Louie's father3 episodes
2012Blue BloodsLeon GoodwinEpisode: "The Job"
2012–2013HomelandDar Adal12 episodes
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
2013Do No HarmCozarEpisode: "Six Feet Deep"
2013ElementaryDaniel GottliebEpisode: "A Landmark Story"

Theatre[edit]

Broadway[edit]

Off-Broadway[edit]

Awards and honours[edit]

Theatre[edit]

Film[edit]

Television[edit]

Awards for lifetime achievement[edit]

In July 2004, during a ceremony in Rome, he was awarded the "Premio per gli Italiani nel Mondo". This is a prize distributed by the Marzio Tremaglia foundation and the Italian government to Italian emigrants and their descendants who have distinguished themselves abroad.

In 2009 he was recognized by The Alumni Association of The College of New York City with John H. Finley Award in recognition of exemplary dedicated service to the City of New York.

In 2010 Abraham was the recipient of The Sir John Gielgud Award (Theatre) for that year.[20]

He also has an Honorary doctorate from the Rider College in Lawrenceville, in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Getting to Know F. Murray Abraham". La Stage Times. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  2. ^ a b "Academy Award-Winning Actor F. Murray Abraham | The Diane Rehm Show from WAMU and NPR". The Diane Rehm Show. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Salomon, Andrew (2007-02-15). "The Lion in Winter". Backstage.com. Archived from the original on 2007-03-04. Retrieved 2007-02-15. 
  4. ^ How I Got My Equity Card. Actorsequity.org. Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  5. ^ F. Murray Abraham, Oscar Winner, Seeks Tolerance Through Arts. America.gov (2006-09-20). Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  6. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000719/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
  7. ^ Tales from the Morgue: Hometown stars – F. Murray Abraham. Elpasotimes.typepad.com (2008-07-10). Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  8. ^ His Meanie Role in Amadeus Makes Nice Guy F. Murray Abraham the Man to Beat For the Oscar. People.com. Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  9. ^ F. Murray Abraham Biography – Yahoo! Movies. Movies.yahoo.com. Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  10. ^ Jean-Jacques Annaud, The Name of the Rose, DVD commentary, Warner Home Video, 2004.
  11. ^ "The Name of the Rose (Der Name der Rose)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  12. ^ The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) - Trivia
  13. ^ Is winning an Oscar a curse or a blessing? at the Wayback Machine (archived December 7, 2008) film.com (2007).
  14. ^ Filmography by TV series for F. Murray Abraham. imdb.com
  15. ^ The official source for Broadway Information. IBDB. Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  16. ^ The Movie : F. Murray Abraham at the Wayback Machine (archived September 28, 2007). amadeusimmortal.com
  17. ^ González, María Cortés. "Josephine Abraham, 96, loved life, according to famous son F. Murray Abraham". ElPasoTimes.com. El Paso Times and MediaNews Group. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  18. ^ Healy, Patrick (January 26, 2010). "F. Murray Abraham: Action Hero". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  19. ^ Rizzo, Frank. (2011-05-18) F. Murray Abraham Receives Obie for Tresnjak Production of "Merchant". Blogs.courant.com. Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  20. ^ F. Murray Abraham Gielgud Award 2010. Vimeo.com (2011-01-17). Retrieved on 2012-10-15.

External links[edit]