Legendary actor Allen Garfield who played a critical role in classic 70s movies such as The Conversation and Nashville has died. He was in his 80s. Garfield’s son, Lois Goorwitz, said he died in Los Angeles on Tuesday because of COVID-19 complications. Garfield was a member of the Motion Picture Television Fund House, the retirement centre for the industry where many employees and some tenants screened the virus positively.
The Garfield, born in Newark, New Jersey, started out first as a boxer and a sportswriter. He practised acting at night while covering sports for New Jersey’s Star-Ledger and was ultimately taken in by the Actor’s Studio. He taught there, under Lee Strasberg. Conducting with naturalism and devotion to practice, Garfield discovered that he could turn journalism into acting.
Garfield became the backbone of some of the best 70’s movies, like Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation; Robert Redford’s Candidate; Robert Altman’s “Nashville;” Woody Allen’s Bananas; Billy Wilder’s The Front Page; William Friedkin’s The Brink’s Job; and Richard Rush’s The Stunt Man.
Garfield always played talky, nervous characters — salesmen, greedy businessmen, sweaty politicians … They were overwhelmingly genuine, and so much so that Garfield was frequently understated.
In Nashville, Garfield played the country star Barbara Jean, the manager-husband of Ronee Blakly. He is the 1987’s “Beverly Hills Cop II” angry police chief who is on an expletive-laden tirade against Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, and John Ashton before kill himself.
Hollywood mourns over Garfield’s death. James Woods, who co-starred on Citizen Cohn with him, recalled him as a “superb” actor.
Garfield, born Allen Goorwitz, had suffered a number of strokes, including one shortly before filming Roman Polanski’s “The Ninth Gate” in 1999 and one in 2004 which led to his residence at the Motion Picture Television Fund Home in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles.