Robert Duvall


05 Jan 1931


San Diego, California, USA


Robert Selden Duvall


Veteran actor and director Robert Selden Duvall was born on January 5, 1931, in San Diego, CA, to Mildred Virginia (Hart), an amateur actress, and William Howard Duvall, a career military officer who later became an admiral. Duvall majored in drama at Principia College (Elsah, IL), then served a two-year hitch in the army after graduating in 1953. He began attending The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre In New York City on the G.I. Bill in 1955, studying under Sanford Meisner along with Dustin Hoffman, with whom Duvall shared an apartment. Both were close to another struggling young actor named Gene Hackman. Meisner cast Duvall in the play "The Midnight Caller" by Horton Foote, a link that would prove critical to his career, as it was Foote who recommended Duvall to play the mentally disabled "Boo Radley" in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). This was his first "major" role since his 1956 motion picture debut as an MP was in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), starring Paul Newman.

Duvall began making a name for himself as a stage actor in New York, winning an Obie Award in 1965 playing incest-minded longshoreman "Eddie Carbone" in the off-Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge", a production for which his old roommate Hoffman was assistant director. He found steady work in episodic TV and appeared as a modestly billed character actor in films, such as Arthur Penn's The Chase (1966) with Marlon Brando and in Robert Altman's Countdown (1967) and Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People (1969), in both of which he co-starred with James Caan.

He was also memorable as the heavy who is shot by John Wayne at the climax of True Grit (1969) and was the first "Maj. Frank Burns", creating the character in Altman's Korean War comedy MASH (1970). He also appeared as the eponymous lead in George Lucas' directorial debut, THX 1138 (1971). It was Francis Ford Coppola, casting The Godfather (1972), who reunited Duvall with Brando and Caan and provided him with his career breakthrough as mob lawyer "Tom Hagen". He received the first of his six Academy Award nominations for the role.

Thereafter, Duvall had steady work in featured roles in such films as The Godfather: Part II (1974), The Killer Elite (1975), Network (1976), The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) and The Eagle Has Landed (1976). Occasionally this actor's actor got the chance to assay a lead role, most notably in Tomorrow (1972), in which he was brilliant as William Faulkner's inarticulate backwoods farmer. He was less impressive as the lead in Badge 373 (1973), in which he played a character based on real-life NYPD detective Eddie Egan, the same man his old friend Gene Hackman had won an Oscar for playing, in fictionalized form as "Popeye Doyle" in The French Connection (1971).

It was his appearance as "Lt. Col. Kilgore" in another Coppola picture, Apocalypse Now (1979), that solidified Duvall's reputation as a great actor. He got his second Academy Award nomination for the role, and was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most versatile actor in the world. Duvall created one of the most memorable characters ever assayed on film, and gave the world the memorable phrase, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning!".

Subsequently, Duvall proved one of the few established character actors to move from supporting to leading roles, with his Oscar-nominated turns in The Great Santini (1979) and Tender Mercies (1983), the latter of which won him the Academy Award for Best Actor. Now at the summit of his career, Duvall seemed to be afflicted with the fabled "Oscar curse" that had overwhelmed the careers of fellow Academy Award winners Luise Rainer, Rod Steiger and Cliff Robertson. He could not find work equal to his talents, either due to his post-Oscar salary demands or a lack of perception in the industry that he truly was leading man material. He did not appear in The Godfather: Part III (1990), as the studio would not give in to his demands for a salary commensurate with that of Al Pacino, who was receiving $5 million to reprise Michael Corleone.

His greatest achievement in his immediate post-Oscar period was his triumphant characterization of grizzled Texas Ranger Gus McCrae in the TV mini-series Lonesome Dove (1989), for which he received an Emmy nomination. He received a second Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in Stalin (1992), and a third Emmy nomination playing Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in The Man Who Captured Eichmann (1996).

The shakeout of his career doldrums was that Duvall eventually settled back into his status as one of the premier character actors in the industry, rivaled only by his old friend Gene Hackman. Duvall, unlike Hackman, also has directed pictures, including the documentary We're Not the Jet Set (1977), Angelo My Love (1983) and Assassination Tango (2002). As a writer-director, Duvall gave himself one of his most memorable roles, that of the preacher on the run from the law in The Apostle (1997), a brilliant performance for which he received his third Best Actor nomination and fifth Oscar nomination overall. The film brought Duvall back to the front ranks of great actors, and was followed by a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod for A Civil Action (1998).

Robert Duvall will long be remembered as one of the great naturalistic American screen actors in the mode of Spencer Tracy and his frequent co-star Marlon Brando. His performances as "Boo Radley" in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), "Jackson Fentry" in Tomorrow (1972), "Tom Hagen" in the first two "Godfather" movies, "Frank Hackett" in Network (1976), "Lt. Col. Kilgore" in Apocalypse Now (1979), "Bull Meechum" in The Great Santini (1979), "Mac Sledge" in Tender Mercies (1983), "Gus McCrae" in Lonesome Dove (1989) and "Sonny Dewey" in The Apostle (1997) rank as some of the finest acting ever put on film. It's a body of work that few actors can equal, let alone surpass.

Actor ( 194 credits )

In Dubious Battle (2016) Bolton
Racing Legacy (2015) (rumored)
Wild Horses (2015)
West Texas Investors Club (2015)  Himself (6 episodes, 2015)
The Judge (2014) Judge Joseph Palmer
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (2014)  Himself (1 episode, 2014)
HuffPost Live Conversations (2014)  Himself (1 episode, 2014)
Late Night with Seth Meyers (2014)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 2015)
A Night in Old Mexico (2013) Red
Milius (2013) Himself (archive footage)
Jack Reacher (2012) Cash
Jayne Mansfield's Car (2012) Jim Caldwell
Casting By (2012) Himself
Larry King Now (2012)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 2015)
Welcome to the Basement (2012)  Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (archive footage) (1 e
Seven Days in Utopia (2011) Johnny Crawford
JacK Waltzer: On the Craft of Acting (2011) Himself - Comedian
Oprah Presents: Master Class (2011)  Himself (1 episode, 2015)
Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good (2011) Himself
The Talk (2010)  Himself (1 episode, 2015)
Get Low (2009) Felix Bush
Crazy Heart (2009) Wayne
The Road (2009) Old Man
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (2009)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 2011)
The Rotten Tomatoes Show (2009)  Himself (1 episode, 2010)
Glenn Beck (2009)  Tom Hagen (1 episode, 2009)
In the House with Peter Bart & Peter Guber (2009) (1 episode, 2010)
All the Presidents' Movies: The Movie (2009) Himself
Four Christmases (2008) Howard
Huckabee (2008)  Himself (2 episodes, 2010)
We Own the Night (2007) Burt Grusinsky
Lucky You (2007) L. C. Cheever
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (2007) Taking Chance (voice)
Banda sonora (2007)  Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (1 episode, 2010)
The Graham Norton Show (2007)  Himself (1 episode, 2014)
Up Close with Carrie Keagan (2007)  Himself (2 episodes, 2009-2010)
Thank You for Smoking (2005) Captain
Kicking & Screaming (2005) Buck Weston
Made in Hollywood (2005)  Himself (1 episode, 2009)
Cinema mil (2005)  Boss Spearman / ... (2 episodes, 2005)
Howard Stern on Demand (2005)  Himself (2 episodes, 2006)
Tavis Smiley (2004)  Himself (1 episode, 2010)
Omg! Insider (2004)  Himself - The Judge (1 episode, 2014)
Secondhand Lions (2003) Hub
Open Range (2003) Boss Spearman
Gods and Generals (2003) Gen. Robert E. Lee
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (2003)  Himself (1 episode, 2014)
Texas Monthly Talks (2003)  Himself - Interviewee (1 episode, 2003)
Assassination Tango (2002) John J.
John Q (2002) Lt. Frank Grimes
Autograph (2002)  Himself (2 episodes, 2002)
Festival Pass with Chris Gore (2002)  Himself
With the Filmmaker: Portraits by Albert Maysles (2001)  Himself
A Shot at Glory (2000) Gordon McLeod
The 6th Day (2000) Dr. Griffin Weir
Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) Otto Halliwell
The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn (1999)  Himself (1 episode, 2003)
A Civil Action (1998) Jerome Facher
Deep Impact (1998) Spurgeon Tanner
The Gingerbread Man (1998) Dixon Doss
Unseen Hollywood (1998)  Himself (unknown episodes)
The Howard Stern Radio Show (1998)  Himself (1 episode, 1999)
Celebrity Profile (1998)  Himself (1 episode)
The Apostle (1997) The Apostle E.F.
SAG Foundation Conversations (1997)  Himself (1 episode, 2010)
Phenomenon (1996) Doc Brunder
A Family Thing (1996) Earl Pilcher Jr.
Sling Blade (1996) Karl's Father
The Rosie O'Donnell Show (1996)  Himself (1 episode, 1999)
The O'Reilly Factor (1996)  Tom Hagen in 'The Godfather' (1 episode, 2012)
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (1996)  Himself (1 episode, 2003)
The Scarlet Letter (1995) Roger Chillingworth
The Stars Fell on Henrietta (1995) Mr. Cox
Something to Talk About (1995) Wyly King
E! Live from the Red Carpet (1995)  Himself (2 episodes, 2003-2015)
The Paper (1994) Bernie White
Howard Stern (1994)  Himself (3 episodes, 1998-2003)
Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (1993) Walter
Geronimo: An American Legend (1993) Al Sieber
Falling Down (1993) Detective Prendergast
Late Show with David Letterman (1993)  Himself / ... (2 episodes, 1993-2006)
Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1993)  Himself (2 episodes, 1998-2003)
Signé croisette (1993)  Himself (1 episode, 1998)
The Plague (1992) Joseph Grand
Newsies (1992) Joseph Pulitzer
Gomorron (1992)  Himself - Om Filmen (1 episode, 2000)
Convicts (1991) Soll Gautier
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991) Himself
Rambling Rose (1991) Daddy Hillyer
Días de cine (1991)  Himself (1 episode, 2009)
Charlie Rose (1991)  Himself - Guest / ... (4 episodes, 1996-2011)
Days of Thunder (1990) Harry Hogge
A Show of Force (1990) Howard
The Handmaid's Tale (1990) Commander
Locos por la tele (1990)  Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower (archive footage) (1 episode
Tango, Our Dance (1988)
Colors (1988) Officer Bob Hodges
Live with Kelly and Michael (1988)  Himself (1 episode, 2010)
Later with Bob Costas (1988)  Himself (1 episode, 1991)
The American Experience (1988)  Narrator (1 episode, 2005)
Hotel Colonial (1987) Roberto Carrasco (Luca Venieri)
Biography (1987)  Himself (2 episodes, 2005-2006)
Let's Get Harry (1986) Norman Shrike
Belizaire the Cajun (1986) The Preacher
Crook & Chase (1986)  Himself (1 episode, 1996)
The Lightship (1985) Calvin Caspary
American Masters (1985)  Himself (2 episodes, 1990-2010)
Larry King Live (1985)  Himself (1 episode, 2004)
The Natural (1984) Max Mercy
The Stone Boy (1984) Joe Hillerman
Tender Mercies (1983) Mac Sledge
The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper (1981) Gruen
True Confessions (1981) Det. Tom Spellacy
Entertainment Tonight (1981)  Himself (2 episodes, 2015)
The Great Santini (1979) Lt. Col. 'Bull' Meechum
Apocalypse Now (1979) Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) Priest on Swing (uncredited)
The Betsy (1978) Loren Hardeman III
Apocalypse Now: The Workprint (1978) Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (uncredited)
The Greatest (1977) Bill McDonald
Hollywood Greats (1977)  Himself (1 episode, 1984)
The Eagle Has Landed (1976) Colonel Radl
Network (1976) Frank Hackett
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) Dr. John H. Watson / Narrator
The Killer Elite (1975) George Hansen
Breakout (1975) Jay Wagner
Saturday Night Live (1975)  Various (1 episode, 1998)
Good Morning America (1975)  Himself (1 episode, 1979)
The Godfather: Part II (1974) Tom Hagen
The Conversation (1974) The Director (uncredited)
Dinah! (1974)  Himself (1 episode, 1975)
The Outfit (1973) Earl Macklin
Badge 373 (1973) Eddie Ryan
Lady Ice (1973) Ford Pierce
Joe Kidd (1972) Frank Harlan
The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972) Jesse James
Tomorrow (1972) Jackson Fentry
The Godfather (1972) Tom Hagen
Lawman (1971) Vernon Adams
THX 1138 (1971) THX
Straight Talk (1971)  Himself (1 episode, 1977)
Bald: The Making of 'THX 1138' (1971) Himself
The Godfather: Behind the Scenes (1971) Himself (uncredited)
The Revolutionary (1970) Despard
MASH (1970) Maj. Frank Burns
The Rain People (1969) Gordon
True Grit (1969) Ned Pepper
The David Frost Show (1969)  Himself (1 episode, 1972)
Bullitt (1968) Weissberg
The Detective (1968) Nestor
Mod Squad (1968)  Matt Jenkins (1 episode, 1969)
Countdown (1967) Chiz
Cimarron Strip (1967)  Joe Wyman (1 episode, 1967)
Judd for the Defense (1967)  Raymond Cane (1 episode, 1968)
CBS Playhouse (1967)  Dr. Margolin (1 episode, 1968)
The Chase (1966) Edwin Stewart
The Time Tunnel (1966)  Raul Nimon (1 episode, 1967)
T.H.E. Cat (1966)  Laurent / ... (2 episodes, 1966-1967)
Felony Squad (1966)  Allie Froelich (1 episode, 1966)
Hawk (1966)  Dick Olmstead (1 episode, 1966)
Shane (1966)  Tom Gary (1 episode, 1966)
Nightmare in the Sun (1965) Motorcyclist
The Wild Wild West (1965)  Dr. Horace Humphries (1 episode, 1967)
The F.B.I. (1965)  Ernie Milden / ... (5 episodes, 1965-1969)
Run for Your Life (1965)  Richard Fletcher (1 episode, 1968)
The American Sportsman (1965)  Himself (2 episodes, 1978-1979)
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964)  Zar (1 episode, 1965)
Captain Newman, M.D. (1963) Capt. Paul Cabot Winston
The Fugitive (1963)  Eric Christian / ... (3 episodes, 1963-1965)
The Outer Limits (1963)  Adam Ballard / ... (3 episodes, 1964)
The Lieutenant (1963)  Richard Whitley (1 episode, 1964)
Kraft Suspense Theatre (1963)  Harvey Farnsworth (1 episode, 1964)
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre (1963)  Frank Reeser (1 episode, 1966)
Arrest and Trial (1963)  Morton Ware (1 episode, 1963)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) Boo Radley
The Virginian (1962)  Johnny Keel (1 episode, 1963)
Combat! (1962)  Karl / ... (3 episodes, 1965-1967)
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962)  Himself (1 episode, 1974)
Stoney Burke (1962)  Joby Pierce (1 episode, 1963)
The Defenders (1961)  Al Rogart / ... (3 episodes, 1961-1965)
Cain's Hundred (1961)  Tom Nugent (1 episode, 1961)
Shannon (1961)  Joey Nolan (1 episode, 1961)
Great Ghost Tales (1961)  William Wilson (1 episode, 1961)
The Mike Douglas Show (1961)  Himself (1 episode, 1977)
Route 66 (1960)  Arnie / ... (3 episodes, 1961-1963)
The Robert Herridge Theater (1960) (1 episode, 1960)
Twilight Zone (1959)  Charley Parkes (1 episode, 1963)
The Untouchables (1959)  Eddie Moon (1 episode, 1963)
Naked City (1958)  Barney Sonners / ... (4 episodes, 1961-1962)
Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) MP (uncredited) (unconfirmed)
Playhouse 90 (1956) (1 episode, 1960)
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955)  Bart Collins (1 episode, 1962)
Today (1952)  Himself (1 episode, 1978)
Armstrong Circle Theatre (1950)  Berks / ... (2 episodes, 1959-1960)

Producer ( 10 credits )

A Night in Old Mexico (2013) producer
Get Low (2009) executive producer
Crazy Heart (2009) producer
Portrait of Billy Joe (2004) producer
Assassination Tango (2002) producer
A Shot at Glory (2000) producer
The Apostle (1997) executive producer
A Family Thing (1996) producer
Angelo My Love (1983) producer
Tender Mercies (1983) co-producer

Writer ( 3 credits )

Assassination Tango (2002) (written by)
The Apostle (1997) (written by)
Angelo My Love (1983) (written by)

Director ( 5 credits )

Wild Horses (2015)
Assassination Tango (2002)
The Apostle (1997)
Angelo My Love (1983)
We're Not the Jet Set (1977)