A renowned character actor who never liked that label, Rod Steiger left his mark on 1950s and ‘60s Hollywood with forceful performances in such critical favorites as On the Waterfront (1954) and The Pawnbroker (1964), culminating in an Oscar for In the Heat of the Night (1967). Despite myriad health problems and less sterling job offers from the 1970s onward, Steiger never stopped acting before he passed away in 2002.
Born on Long Island, Steiger was raised in New Jersey by his mother after his parents divorced. Dropping out of high school at 16, Steiger enlisted in the Navy in 1941, serving on a destroyer in the World War II South Pacific. Returning to New Jersey after his 1945 discharge, Steiger worked at the Veterans Administration and joined a civil service theater group where one of the female members urged him to make acting his career. Along with using his G.I. Bill to study at several New York schools, including the Actors Studio, Steiger began landing roles in live TV plays… read more