Sam Wanamaker

Active - 1948 - 1993  |   Born - Jun 14, 1919 in Chicago  |   Died - Dec 18, 1993   |   Genres - Drama, Crime, Comedy, Action

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Actor/director Sam Wanamaker was one of those whose career was nearly derailed by the machinations of Senator McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee. A native of Chicago, born Samuel Watenmaker, he began his career in theater at age 17 following training at Chicago's Goodman Theater. Wanamaker honed his acting skills in stock, traveling shows, and on Broadway. He also attended Drake University. Between 1943 and 1946, Wanamaker was in the U.S. Army. Early in his career, he also worked in radio. He made his feature film debut in My Girl Tisa (1948). The following year, Wanamaker, whose leftist political views were no secret in Hollywood, went to England to appear in blacklisted director Edward Dymtryk's Give Us This Day (1949). After making another film in Britain, Wanamaker learned that he too was about to be investigated and had been blacklisted; therefore, Wanamaker elected to remain in England. Over the next ten years, Wanamaker worked on-stage as a director, producer, and actor. In the 1960s, Wanamaker resumed his acting career in internationally produced films such as The Concrete Jungle (1962) and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965). He made his directorial bow in 1969 with The File of the Golden Goose (1969) and went on to make several more films, including The Executioner (1970). He also made television movies such as the well-regarded true story, The Killing of Randy Webster (1981). In 1985, Wanamaker appeared on the short-lived television series The Berrengers. When not busy acting or directing, Wanamaker had been an active supporter of the plan to restore Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Unfortunately, Wanamaker died of cancer just before the project was completed. His daughter Zoe Wanamaker is also an actor.

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