In the Bronx, New York, on March 26, 1940, James Edmund Caan was born. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Germany named Sophie and Arthur, and Arthur was a butcher. With his sister Barbara and brother Ronnie, James grew up in Queens.
He later attended Hofstra University in New York as well as Michigan State University, where he studied economics and played football.
While attending Hofstra, Caan developed an interest in acting and made the decision to go to the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. Sanford Meisner and other industry experts taught him throughout his five years there after being admitted.
In 1961, Caan made his television debut in an episode of “Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole” and performed in the Broadway premiere of William and James Goldman’s “Naked City.” He made his film debut in “Irma la Douce,” two years later, and in 1966, his work in “The Glory Guys” won him a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer. James appeared in the 1960s films “Lady in a Cage” (1964), “El Dorado” (1967), and “Journey to Shiloh,” as well as guest starring on the television shows “Route 66” (1961), “The Untouchables” (1962), “Dr. Kildare” (1963), “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” (1964), and “Get Smart” (1969). (1968). Caan co-starred in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Rain People,” in 1969 alongside Shirley Knight and Robert Duvall. The following year, he portrayed the title character in “Brian’s Song,” which won four Emmys and a Peabody Award.
Caan played Sonny Corleone in Coppola’s “The Godfather,” in 1971, which earned James, Robert Duvall, and Al Pacino Oscar nods for Best Supporting Actor. He appeared in “Slither” “Cinderella Liberty” and 1974’s “The Gambler,” which both garnered him Golden Globe nominations, after his Academy Award-nominated performance.
In addition to receiving another Golden Globe nomination for 1975’s “The Godfather Part II” the follow-up to 1968’s “Funny Lady,” James made a cameo appearance in “Funny Girl.” (1974). Later, he appeared in the science fiction picture “Rollerball” (1975), collaborated with Duvall once more on “The Killer Elite” and portrayed an Army Staff Sergeant in “A Bridge Too Far” (1975). (1977).
Caan made his directing debut in 1978 with “Hide in Plain Sight” which received positive reviews from critics despite not being a commercial success. Caan also appeared in the movie. He was given the opportunity to play leading roles in a number of blockbuster movies, such as “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Superman,” and “The French Connection,” but he declined every single one of them.
After his sister passed away from leukemia in November 1981, James took a sabbatical from acting. However, he later made a comeback in the 1987 film “Gardens of Stone” after learning he was broke. He next portrayed a police officer in “Alien Nation” (1998) and Spud Spaldoni in “Dick Tracy” (1990), and in 1992, for his work in Stephen King’s “Misery.” he was nominated for a Saturn Award. Additionally, Caan acted as himself in an episode of the NBC sitcom “Honeymoon in Vegas” in the 1990s.
He also made appearances in the films “The Program” (1992), “Bottle Rocket” (1993), “Mickey Blue Eyes” (1996), and “Newsradio” (1999). (1996). He and Will Ferrell co-starred in the holiday classic “Elf,” in 2003, which brought in $220.9 million at the box office. James debuted in 88 episodes of “Big Ed” that same year as “Las Vegas,” Deline; he left the show in 2007 after four seasons. He has appeared in many movies since leaving “Las Vegas,” including “Get Smart” (2008), “New York, I Love You” (2008), “The Outsider” (2014), and “The Red Maple Leaf” (2016). He also provided the voice for the animated flicks “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (2009) and its 2013 sequel.
James has gone through four divorces and marriages. Before getting divorced in 1966, he wed Dee Jay Mathis in 1961. They had a daughter named Tara, who was born in 1964. Caan married Sheila Marie Ryan ten years after the divorce, and the two got divorced in 1977. Scott, a boy, was born to them in August 1976. Scott Caan became a writer, director, and actor as he grew up.
Alexander was born in 1991; James and Ingrid Hajek divorced in March 1994 after getting married in September 1990. James (born in 1995) and Jacob (born in 1998) are two additional boys he shares with Linda Stokes, to whom he was married from 1995 to 2017.
For reportedly drawing a gun on rapper Derek Lee (aka Doc Rapper) after an argument, Caan was taken into custody in March 1994. After the passing of his sister, James battled cocaine addiction and entered rehab in the summer of 1994. As a skilled martial artist with three decades of karate training, the International Karate Association conferred the very renowned title of Soke Dai on Caan, a 6th-degree black belt.
Honors and Awards
Caan was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in 1973 for his work in “The Godfather,” for which he also got a Golden Train Award at the 1972 Faro Island Film Festival (along with co-stars Marlon Brando and Al Pacino).
James received nominations for three further Golden Globes, including “The Glory Guys,” “The Gambler,” and “Funny Lady.”
In 1972, Caan’s performance in “Brian’s Song” earned him a nomination for an Emmy for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, and in 1976, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films honored him with the Golden Scroll for his performance in “Rollerball” In 1999, he won a Hollywood Film Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting, and in 2003, the Florida Film Festival presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Caan received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1978, while the cast of “The Red Maple Leaf” won an Action on Film Award in 2016.
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