Alan Arkin dead at age 89: Academy Award winning star of Little Miss Sunshine passes at his California home
Oscar-winning actor Alan Arkin has passed away at age 89.
His sons Adam, Matthew and Anthony confirmed the death of their father in a statement to People.
‘Our father was a uniquely talented force of nature, both as an artist and a man. A loving husband, father, grand and great grandfather, he was adored and will be deeply missed,’ they said.
During his prolific career, Arkin won an Oscar for his role in the 2006 dark comedy Little Miss Sunshine, and a Tony in 1963 for Enter Laughing.
Critically-acclaimed actor Alan Arkin has passed away at age 89; pictured in Little Miss Sunshine, the movie that earned him an Academy Award for best supporting actor
Arkin pictured in The Kominsky Method with Michael Douglas
Arkin was born in Brooklyn in 1934 but moved to Los Angeles 11 years later when his father David, a painter, began working in Los Angeles as a set designer.
David Arkin’s Hollywood career was, however, torpedoed first by a months-long strike and then by the Red Scare, in which his leftist politics got him accused of communism and rendered un-hirable.
His father’s troubles did not extinguish little Alan’s enthusiasm for showbiz, which initially propelled him into a music career.
Alan was part of a folk group called the Tarriers, which in 1957 managed to produce a hit single in the form of The Banana Boat Song.
Eventually he decided to branch out solo as an actor, and in the early 1960s he landed a job with the now legendary comedy troupe Second City.
Alan was initially apprehensive about joining Second City, thinking: ‘I’m going to bury myself at a hole in the wall in Chicago? It would be the end of my career.’
Upon joining Second City, though, he ‘was happier than I’d ever been. The minute I got there I realized I’d found a home,’ he told NPR.
By 1963 he was making his Broadway debut in Enter Laughing, a play based on a semiautobiographical novel by Carl Reiner.
Alan’s first time on Broadway was a triumph, earning him critical acclaim as well as a Tony Award for best featured actor in a play.
However his stage work in his early career was ‘torture,’ he said, as actors are ‘not encouraged to experiment or play very much.’
He reflected: ‘The play gets set the minute opening night is there and…you’re supposed to do exactly that for the next year. And I just am constitutionally unable to just find any kind of excitement or creativity in that kind of experience.’
Alan struck out to Hollywood, and by 1967 he had scored his first Oscar nomination for the Cold War satire The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.
One year later he appeared in the film adaptation of Carson McCullers’ classic Great Depression novel The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, garnering a second Oscar nod.
Then in 1969 he directed a short film called People Soup led by his sons Adam and Matthew Arkin, resulting in yet another nomination at the Academy Awards.