Eli Herschel Wallach was an American film, television and stage actor whose career spanned more than six decades, beginning in the late 1940s. Trained in stage acting, which he enjoyed doing most, he became "one of the greatest 'character actors' ever to appear on stage and screen", with over 90 film credits. On stage, he often co-starred with his wife, Anne Jackson, becoming one of the best-known acting couples in the American theater. As a stage and screen character actor, Wallach had one of the longest ever careers in show business, spanning 62 years from his Broadway debut to his last major Hollywood studio movie.
Wallach initially studied method acting under Sanford Meisner, and later became a founding member of the Actors Studio, where he studied under Lee Strasberg. His versatility gave him the ability to play a wide variety of different roles throughout his career, primarily as a supporting actor.
For his debut screen performance in Baby Doll (1956), he won a BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer and a Golden Globe Award nomination. Among his other most famous roles are Calvera in The Magnificent Seven (1960), Guido in The Misfits (1961), and Tuco ("The Ugly") in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Other notable portrayals include outlaw Charlie Gant in How the West Was Won (1962), Hitman Leon B. Little in Tough Guys (1986), Don Altobello in The Godfather Part III, Cotton Weinberger in The Two Jakes (both 1990), and Arthur Abbott in The Holiday (2006). One of America's most prolific screen actors, Wallach remained active well into his nineties, with roles as recently as 2010 in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and The Ghost Writer.
In 1988, Eli Wallach was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
Wallach has also received BAFTA Awards, Tony Awards and Emmy Awards for his work, and received an Academy Honorary Award at the second annual Governors Awards, presented on November 13, 2010.
In March 2017, the Harry Ransom Center announced the acquisition of Wallach's papers, along with those of his wife. It will be made public when cataloging is complete.