Howard da Silva

Active - 1939 - 2021  |   Born - May 4, 1909   |   Died - Feb 16, 1986   |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Howard Da Silva worked the steel mills of Pennsylvania to pay his way through Carnegie Institute. After finishing his acting training, Da Silva went to work for Eva Le Galliene's theatrical troupe. He brought attention to himself by staging a one-man show, Ten Million Ghosts, which led to several years' work with Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre. On Broadway, the stocky, booming-voiced Da Silva created the roles of Jack Armstrong in Abe Lincoln in Illinois (a part he re-created in the 1940 film version) and Jud Frye in Oklahoma. His earliest movie appearance was in the Manhattan-filmed Jimmy Savo vehicle Once in a Blue Moon (1934), but Da Silva didn't gain cinematic prominence until signed by Paramount in the 1940s, where among many other choice assignments he was cast as the bartender in the Oscar-winning The Lost Weekend (1945). As one of most vocal and demonstrative of Hollywood's Left Wing, Da Silva became a convenient target for the House Un-American Activities Commission, and he was blacklisted. Unable to find movie or TV work, DaSilva returned to the stage in the 1950s, not facing the cameras again until 1962's David and Lisa (1962). Among his many memorable portrayals of the 1970s were Benjamin Franklin in stage and film versions of 1776, Nikita Khrushchev in the 3-hour TV drama Missiles of October, and his award-winning supporting performance in PBS' Verna: The USO Girl. Howard Da Silva also appeared in both the 1949 and 1974 versions of The Great Gatsby, playing the tragic garage owner Mr Wilson in the first version, and the Arnold Rothstein-like gambler Meyer Wolfsheim in the second.

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