Anthony Franciosa, best known for his portrayals of troubled and disturbed characters that propelled his Hollywood fame during the 1950s and 60s but whose volatile temper on set had hindered his career, passed away Thursday at age 77, having suffered a stroke.
Anthony Papaleo was born October 25th 1928.
Early Life and Education
Franciosa was born Anthony Papaleo in New York City to construction worker parents who later divorced; following this event he rarely saw either of his biological fathers again.
He joined the Cherry Lane Theatre Group of Off Broadway in 1948, and two years later was accepted into the Actors Studio. To cover expenses while performing onstage he supported himself through working as a waiter, dishwasher, day laborer and messenger boy.
Franciosa made his Broadway debut in 1953 and soon after started appearing in major movies for top directors, such as Robert Wise’s This Could Be the Night and Elia Kazan’s Searing Satire of Media Manipulation A Face in the Crowd.
Franciosa first made his acting debut in stage productions before making his film debut with MGM’s The Naked Maja (for which he received a Golden Globe nomination). Subsequently, he co-starred alongside Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine in Clifford Odets drama Career as Francisco Goya.
Soon afterward he took on the leading man role of charismatic star reporter Jeff Dillon on TV series The Name of the Game with Gene Barry and Robert Stack alternating as leads; unfortunately his volatile temper led to him being fired after only two seasons.
He continued acting well into the 1990s, mostly on television. On January 19, 2006 at age 77 he died. He had two marriages and three children; his second wife Rita Thiel survived him.
Achievement and Honors
Franciosa enjoyed an extensive acting career. Nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his role in Career (1959), as well as appearing in television shows The Greatest Show on Earth and The Finder of Lost Loves, Franciosa earned several nominations over time.
In 1968 he was cast in an alternating lead role alongside Hugh O’Brian and Doug McClure on the television series Fame Is the Name of the Game; however, only two seasons were completed as his volatile temperament resulted in his dismissal from this show.
He made appearances in several A-list movies by George Cukor and Fred Zinnemann, such as Wild Is the Wind and A Hatful of Rain. Additionally, he enjoyed an extended television career appearing on such programs as Studio One in Hollywood, Kraft Theatre, and Ford Star Jubilee.
Franciosa had a quick and fiery temper that frequently got him into trouble on set. Unfortunately, his aggressive demeanor led to the premature end of his film and stage career but after the 1960s his TV work brought it back alive.
He appeared alongside Anna Magnani and Anthony Quinn in MGM’s Wild Is the Wind (1957), directed by George Cukor. Later he made an appearance as Francisco Goya in The Naked Maja (1958). Additionally he co-starred alongside Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine for director Hal B. Wallis in Career (1959).
He married twice and had two sons before passing away at age 77 in Los Angeles in 2006.
Franciosa’s inability to control his temper on movie sets severely damaged his career, often making headlines due to his disagreements with directors and actors alike. In 1957 he served 10 days in jail after assaulting a photographer; furthermore in 1960 he was arrested for beating up Shelley Winters (ex-wife).
He had troubled relationships with writer Beatrice Bakalyar and real estate agent Judy Kanter, with whom he fathered Nina and Lisa respectively. Finally he married Rita Theil with whom he had sons Christopher and Marco.
On January 19th 2006 in Los Angeles he passed away as the result of a stroke at age 77 and is laid to rest at Hollywood Hills Cemetery.