Born Jacques Haussmann, September 22, 1902, in Bucharest, Rumania; died of spinal cancer, October 31, 1988, in Malibu, CA. Although he spent most of his career as an innovative stage and screen producer and director, John Housemanfirst attracted the attention of mass audiences as Professor Kingsfield, theimperious law school instructor in the 1973 film The Paper Chase. With his haughty demeanor and a voice described by Harry Haun in the New York Daily Newsas "a measured, thought-filled, erudite rumble," Houseman's portrayal earnedhim an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. Through subsequent film and television appearances, he gained even greater recognition, especially with aseries of popular television commercials in which he promoted a brokerage house by claiming, "They make money the old fashioned way. They earn it."
Prior to his success as an actor, Houseman was widely regarded as one of themost influential and respected innovators of the American stage. His theatrical affiliations included the Mercury Theatre, which he co-founded with OrsonWelles in 1937; the American Shakespeare Festival, of which he was artistic director between 1956- 59; the Professional Theatre Group of the University ofCalifornia, Los Angeles, which later became part of the Mark Taper Forum; and the Acting Company, a New York City-based repertory group whose members have included Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, and William Hurt. The John Houseman Theatre was established in 1986 as a permanent home for the Acting Company. Hisassociation with Welles produced such noteworthy events in American culture as a 1935 production of Macbeth set in Haiti with an all-black cast, the staging of the proletarian musical The Cradle Will Rock that was closed by the police in 1936, and the radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds that panicked audiences who believed it was real. Their partnership ended in a disagreementover script credits for the film Citizen Kane. As a movie producer, Housemanwas responsible for such films as The Blue Dalhia, 1946, Letter from an Unknown Woman, 1948, They Live by Night, 1949, Julius Caesar, 1953, and Lust for Life, 1956. His final acting credits included roles in Woody Allen's Another Woman, Bright Lights, Big City, and Scrooged, all released in 1988.
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