Eli Wallach was born in Red Hook, Brooklyn, in 1915, the son of Polish Jewish immigrants. After serving in the US Army in World War II, he received his formative stage training at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. He made his Broadway debut in 1945, in the short-lived play Skydrift, and soon won a Tony Award, in 1951, for his performance as Alvaro Mangiaco in the The Rose Tattoo by Tennessee Williams.
Wallach leapt to film with another Tennessee Williams masterwork, Baby Doll (1956), and from there his career on the screen endured through the second half of the 20th century, well into the 21st. He appears in classics such as The Godfather III (1990), Mystic River (2003), and Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer (2010).
Throughout his career, Wallach has received Tony, Emmy, and BAFTA awards. In 2010, he received an Honorary Academy Award for his long and outstanding contribution to the performing arts.
He is featured as a contributor to Mister Paradise & Other One Act Plays by Tennessee Williams.