John Cazale

john cazale

John Cazale was an important actor who appeared in exactly five movies. You have almost certainly seen him in at least one or two of them.

To wit: he was in “The Conversation” with Gene Hackman, and in both “Godfather” and “Godfather II” (as poor doomed brother Fredo), and in “Dog Day Afternoon” (as sad-sack gunman Sal), and in “The Deer Hunter.” All five of these movies were nominated for Best Picture. Three of them won.

John Cazale was peculiar-looking, but strangely sweet, with a gigantic forehead. He was dying of cancer when he appeared in “Deer Hunter,” and the producers were thinking about replacing him, but Meryl Streep (who was his romantic partner at the time) threatened to leave the production herself if Cazale got booted.

And what would “The Deer Hunter” have been without John Cazale or Meryl Streep?

Strange how such a short career can make such a big impact. I mentioned him to someone recently, and she said: “Oh, he was amazing. He was in so many movies!”

“Only five,” I said.

“Only five?” she said, crestfallen. “It seems like he was in so many more!”

It does indeed.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

2 Responses to John Cazale

  1. starproms says:

    I loved The Deer Hunter. Lovely film.

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