Cleveland-born Keir Dullea found himself in the thick of Manhattan's intellectual scene when his parents took over the management of a Greenwich Village bookstore. Dullea attended Rutgers and San Francisco State, then launched his acting career in regional theater. He made a spectacular film debut in The Hoodlum Priest (1961), playing a born-to-hang juvenile delinquent. He was more sympathetic but no less emotionally disturbed in 1962's David and Lisa; as late as 1965, he was still playing mentally unstable youths in films like Bunny Lake is Missing. The biggest film hit with which Dullea was associated was 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) in which he played the time-and-space-travelling astronaut Bowman. He repeated this characterization (and answered several of the questions posed by 2001) in the 1984 sequel 2010. Though he'd been active on the New York stage in the 1950s, Keir Dullea did not appear on Broadway until 1970, when the 34-year-old actor portrayed a twentysomething blind man in Butterflies are Free.
photo credit: Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
by Hal Erickson biography