Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bad guy, good guy

He was born Voladimir Ivanovich Palahnuik in Lattimer Mines, Pennsylvania, February 18, 1919, the third of five children of Ukrainian immigrants John and Feshka.

In the late 1930s he began a short professional boxing career, compiling a record of 15 consecutive victories with 12 knockouts before losing a decision to future heavyweight contender Joe Baksi.

His face, already fairly battered by boxing, was further disfigured when he bailed out of his burning B-24 in WWII. Extensive reconstructive surgery left him with his unusual gaunt face which we all later stared at on the silver screen.

Growing up, Jack was one of my heroes - I always rooted for the bad guys in the movies. As far as I know, his last movies were City Slickers one and two, although he appeared on TV after those.

His home, HollyBrook ranch, was named after his daughters. His son Cody died of cancer in his early 40s. Jack Palance himself passed away in March of 2006.

Quote: “The only two things you can truly depend upon are gravity and greed.”

Palance also painted landscape art, with a poem included on the back of each picture. He is also the author of The Forest of Love, a book of poems, published October 1, 1996, by Summerhouse Press.


  1. I saw him recently in a so-so film noir titled Panic in the Streets, which was a misnomer. It also featured Richard Widmark & Barbara Bel Geddes. Although the plot could have been better, the camera work was darned good.
    Anyway, I swear that the credits identified him as Walter Jack Palance, which sort of startled me. Thanks for the interesting biographical info.

  2. Easily the best Oscars I ever watched was the one where Billy Crystal hosted and Jack Palance did one armed push ups to show that he was not an old man. The jokes keep coming as Jack was later credited with such feats as bungee jumping off the Hollywood sign.

    He was an interesting actor, I think the last thing I saw him in was a production of a lost Rod Serling screenplay that called a lost episode of The Twilight Zone, when it was clearly a lost episode of The Night Gallery.

  3. @Bill - Yeah, his first few films, including 'Shane" where he was Alan Ladd's nemesis, were credited under Walter Jack Palance. He quickly dropped the Walter.

    @Descartes - and the only "sympathetic" role I think I ever saw him in was "Requiem for a Heavyweight." He was a lot deeper than most think. He lived out in the sticks and never felt comfortable around the Hollywood crowd. Even when he won his oscar (he was nominated for several but never won until City Slickers) he was not really part of the crowd. He showed up in a regular suit to receive his oscar - the night he did his pushups - and said simply, "I don't own a tuxedo anymore." Heh. Which to me said, "And I don't think this night is worth bothering to rent one either." Ah, Jack.

  4. I loved Mr Jack Palance! I actually met him when I was a small child. I don't remember many details I just know that since then I have had a small place in my heart for him.

  5. Now I am going to have to watch some of his movies - thank you for the education. And so early in the morning, too.

  6. I always loved Jack Palance, even when he was scary. He was just so unHollywood (this is not to say I don't go for Hollywood types, but I do recognize that the shallow side of myself isn't the ONLY side).

  7. I have the vaguest of recollections of the name, and none of the man. Must have been before my time. Or something. :)

  8. I would never have guessed that the B/W photos were Jack Palance!

    Nice history lesson. :-)

  9. @Ettarose - I thought it was Halle Berry you met. Don't just leave it at that girl - where the hell did you meet him?

    @Lidian - I recommend the classic "Shane." If you want to get a sense of Jack's evil badness in the early days, that's the one. He doesn't get as much screen time as hero Alan Ladd, but he was scary to kids. :)

    @Janet - Because I have several times called you Linda (Eeyore's ass in your avatar always reminds me of a girl named Linda, a different story) I owe you an apology. I promise to try harder and to not look at your avatar when I try to talk to you. Please forgive me.

    @A. - Well, it's not important. He's dead now. I know you are not into American movies anyway. Have you ever heard of Marlon Brando? If so, I will tell you a story.

    @Angelika - Thank you! You are too kind. :)

    Everybody: Angelika had a picture of a little baby on her blog today with the question, "Guess what I did this weekend?" Duh. She was making a baby. What else could it be?

  10. Poor Linda!!!! I'll forgive you, but I'm not sure she would!

  11. HA!

    When I'm "practicing" to make a baby I'll definitely put up a blog post about it.

    Then you'll see my picture in the paper because I'll be suing the condom company for that .01% of ineffectiveness.



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