After attending City College of New York, Marc Lawrence studied acting with Eva Le Gallienne. Among the many stage productions in which Lawrence appeared were Sour Mountain and Waiting for Lefty. First signed for films by Columbia in 1932, Lawrence's scarred face and growly voice made him indispensable for gangster parts, though he generally displayed an intelligence far higher than the average goon or gunman. Though usually limited to villainy, Lawrence was not always confined to urban roles, as witness his successful portrayals of a mountaineer in Shepherd of the Hills (1942) and a western saddle tramp in The Ox-Bow Incident (1943). The actor's own favorite role was Corio in 1947's Captain from Castille. During the House UnAmerican Activities Committee investigations of the 1950s, Lawrence reluctantly offered testimony implicating several of his coworkers as alleged communist sympathizers; the experience virtually destroyed his American career and left him embittered and defensive (he would always refuse to be interviewed by historians of the "Blacklist" era, referring to them as "ghouls"). Lawrence was forced to seek out work in Europe, where he'd emerge in the early 1960s as a director of crime films and spaghetti westerns. Back in the U.S. in the 1980s, Lawrence made several TV appearances and showed up in such films as The Big Easy (1987) and Newsies (1992), typecast once more as gangsters. In 1993, Lawrence privately published his memoirs, in which for the first time in print he addressed his dark days as an HUAC "friendly witness."
by Hal Erickson biography