James Caan, a Hollywood main man of the Nineteen Seventies who memorably displayed his tough-guy display screen presence because the trigger-happy Mafioso Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather” — however who additionally proved, past his macho exterior, a flexible performer of wry expressiveness and sudden vulnerability, died July 6 at 82.

His loss of life was introduced in a message by his official Twitter account. Extra particulars weren’t instantly accessible.

The son of a butcher who had fled Nazi Germany, Mr. Caan grew up within the Nineteen Forties and ’50s on the knockabout streets of New York’s outer boroughs. A wiry boy, he was dubbed “Killer Caan” for his use of his fists in self-defense, and he prided himself on by no means dropping his street-wise edge or raspy Queens accent. He remained, he stated, only a “punk from Sunnyside,” whilst his enigmatic smile and aura of hazard propelled a Hollywood profession lasting six many years and spanning greater than 130 credit.

He maintained his strut and bravado off-screen, incomes a black belt in karate and pursuing hobbies comparable to powerboat racing and roping steers. “I believe I can safely say,” he noticed, “I used to be the one Jewish cowboy from New York on the skilled rodeo cowboy circuit.” Admittedly headstrong and at instances self-destructive, he endured the tumult of cocaine habit and 4 divorces.

Movie critic Roger Ebert admiringly known as him “essentially the most wound-up man within the motion pictures,” an outline Mr. Caan didn’t dispute. Shortly after the box-office success of “Distress” (1990), by which Mr. Caan performed a novelist held captive by a hammer-wielding deranged fan, Mr. Caan joked that director Rob Reiner had indulged in a sadistic recreation by forcing him — “essentially the most hyper man in Hollywood” — to carry out the position tied to a mattress over 15 weeks of filming.

Mr. Caan had gone into appearing on an impulse, determined to keep away from “humping sides of meat from vehicles to eating places” along with his father within the bitter chill of daybreak. He had a expertise for making individuals chortle, a ability he honed one summer time as a Catskills resort social director, and bluffed his approach right into a prestigious theater coaching program in Manhattan, the Neighborhood Playhouse.

Together with his brooding beauty and coiled unpredictability, Mr. Caan received an extended string of visitor elements on TV earlier than getting into motion pictures. He was initially forged in motion roles within the saddle, the racecar, the conning tower and the spaceship. However he confirmed, when given the prospect, understated intelligence and sensitivity as a performer.

Reviewers praised him as a brain-damaged ex-jock in “The Rain Individuals” (1969), directed by Francis Ford Coppola however little seen as a result of studio executives misplaced religion in its industrial enchantment. His breakout position was the terminally in poor health Chicago Bears working again Brian Piccolo within the TV movie “Brian’s Track” (1971).

The ABC film, which touched on interracial friendship, attracted 55 million viewers and earned Mr. Caan an Emmy nomination as greatest actor. The following 12 months, Coppola tapped him to play Sonny Corleone, the eldest son of the mafia kingpin in “The Godfather.”

In a forged that included Marlon Brando as his growing older father, Vito, and Al Pacino as his somber youthful brother Michael, Mr. Caan greater than held his personal because the coarsely attractive and hot-tempered Sonny. To get into character, Mr. Caan stated he discovered unlikely inspiration in comic Don Rickles and his unnerving type of “busting all people’s chops” in vicious takedowns.

Advising Michael on the best way to kill a rival mobster and a corrupt police captain, he declares that “you gotta stand up shut, like this — and bada bing! You blow their brains throughout your good Ivy League go well with.”

The phrase “bada bing” was improvised by Mr. Caan and “grew to become a mantra for mobsters and aspiring mobsters,” Vainness Honest reported in 2009, and served because the identify of Tony Soprano’s strip membership on the HBO TV present “The Sopranos.”

Sonny will get his comeuppance when he’s bloodied in a battlefield’s price of machine-gun hearth whereas trapped in his automotive at a tollbooth. In a scene that took three days to movie, Mr. Caan wore almost 150 tiny explosive fees known as squibs. “Once they went off, it felt like I used to be being punched throughout,” he instructed the London Observer. “If my hand had acquired in entrance of 1, it might have blown a gap clear via.

“I wouldn’t have performed it,” he added, “if there hadn’t been so many women across the set to impress.”

“The Godfather” was a industrial juggernaut, received Academy Awards together with greatest image, helped reinvigorate the gangster style and was ranked behind solely “Citizen Kane” on the American Movie Institute’s 2007 listing of biggest movies of all time. Mr. Caan, who was nominated for a greatest supporting actor trophy, was inundated for many years with exact-change and E-ZPass jokes.

After “The Godfather,” Mr. Caan stated he was hardly ever given a script that didn’t characteristic a pile of corpses within the first 10 minutes. Decided to keep away from typecasting, he ventured into offbeat comedy with “Slither” (1973); performed a sailor who winds up taking care of the interracial son of a prostitute in “Cinderella Liberty” (1973); was a school English professor in life-threatening debt to bookies in “The Gambler” (1974); and confirmed off a pleasing singing voice as theatrical showman Billy Rose in “Humorous Girl” (1975), which starred Barbra Streisand as entertainer Fanny Brice.

He was an athlete in a nightmarish recreation of state-sponsored homicide in “Rollerball” (1975), a heroic Military sergeant within the all-star World Conflict II drama “A Bridge Too Far” (1977) and a grasp safecracker in “Thief” (1981). For the final, which he thought to be his most interesting efficiency, he realized correct method from former crooks who had been employed as technical advisers.

In his quest for selection, he ended up with a number of misfires and mediocrities, together with “Freebie and the Bean” (1974), which Mr. Caan later dismissed as “ ‘The Odd Couple’ in a squad automotive.” He turned down main elements in era-defining dramas comparable to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Kramer vs. Kramer” (which he dismissed with an epithet as “middle-class bourgeois” bull) and Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now.”

“When Francis known as me up about ‘Apocalypse Now,’ all I heard him say was ‘16 weeks within the Philippine jungle,’ ” Mr. Caan instructed The Washington Put up, explaining his rejection.

In the identical interview, he added that Brando was incredulous when Mr. Caan refused the title position of “Superman” (1978) regardless of being provided — like Brando, who performed Jor-El — hundreds of thousands of {dollars} for what was actually a cartoonish position. “Yeah, Marlon,” he replied, “however you don’t must put on the go well with.” (The movie launched a success franchise, with Christopher Reeve within the title position.)

As his profession teetered, Mr. Caan more and more developed a status for wayward private {and professional} habits. In interviews, he appeared unable to regulate his badmouthing of flicks by highly effective administrators, particularly the Hollywood infatuation with particular results over character-driven plot.

He starred in and directed a critically lauded, low-budget drama, “Disguise in Plain Sight” (1980), primarily based on the true story of a person’s battle to seek out his youngsters when his ex-wife and her mob-informant husband go into the witness-protection program. However he stated the studio buried it. “There have been no sharks in it, so these two idiots over at MGM didn’t know what to do with it,” he instructed the London Unbiased.

In the meantime, he pursued a decadent life-style as an habitue of the Playboy Mansion. He spiraled into cocaine habit after the loss of life of his youthful sister and closest confidant Barbara, from leukemia in 1981. Round that point, he misplaced his life financial savings — and his residence — after it was found that he owed lots of of 1000’s of {dollars} in taxes. He blamed incompetent enterprise managers but additionally himself for being too addled by medicine on the time to note.

Mr. Caan entered drug rehabilitation not less than twice within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties, and he continued to be pulled into headlines throughout these years, as soon as for allegedly slapping and choking a girlfriend and as soon as for brandishing a gun throughout an argument over a parking area. He additionally publicly acknowledged his friendship with reputed mobsters (“I do know he’s not a carpenter, OK?” he stated of 1 shut affiliate from his New York days).

He was all however unemployable when Coppola fought for him to star as an Military sergeant within the Vietnam-era navy drama “Gardens of Stone” (1987). Critics lauded his subdued and affecting efficiency as a loner who loves the Military however hates the warfare, however the movie pale shortly from consideration.

Mr. Caan cursed the very point out of “Alien Nation” (1988), a science-fiction cop-buddy movie about extraterrestrials residing amongst Angelinos, and he suffered a large bomb with “For the Boys” (1991), a Bette Midler musical a couple of U.S.O. troupe.

Grayer and weathered, however nonetheless with a menacing charisma, Mr. Caan started his return to prominence with a run of intimidating character roles. Channeling the spirit of Sonny Corleone, he appeared within the crime comedies “Honeymoon in Vegas” (1992), “Bottle Rocket” (1996) and “Mickey Blue Eyes” (1999). He additionally was an ex-CIA man working on line casino safety for 4 seasons within the hit NBC sequence “Las Vegas” (2003).

From ‘tackling dummy’ to the films

James Edmund Caan was born within the Bronx on March 26, 1940, and grew up in a piece of Queens that he later known as “a neighborhood not conducive to the humanities.”

After being kicked out of a number of public colleges for disruptive habits, he managed at 16 to graduate from the Rhodes Faculty, a now-defunct Manhattan prep academy, half-joking that academics accelerated him simply to be performed with him.

He entered Michigan State College with the hope of enjoying on its vaunted soccer staff, however he stated he wound up as “tackling dummy.” At Hofstra School (now college) in Hempstead, N.Y., he dropped out after getting right into a fistfight with an ROTC superior. He was a lifeguard and a bouncer, amongst different odd jobs, earlier than getting into the Neighborhood Playhouse in Manhattan on a whim.

After temporary theater expertise as a spear provider, he moved to California. In one among his earliest display screen elements, he was a sadistic hood who torments Olivia de Havilland whereas she is trapped in her residence elevator in “Girl in a Cage” (1964). Director Howard Hawks, generally known as a spotter of latest expertise, forged him within the lead position of the racecar drama “Pink Line 7000” (1965) after which in a serious supporting position as a rebellious knife-fighter reverse John Wayne in “El Dorado” (1966).

Offscreen, Mr. Caan and Wayne had a contentious and playful relationship, with Wayne going out of his approach to assist the younger actor who appeared utterly unintimidated working with the legendary western star. Wayne pulled pranks, like filling Mr. Caan’s dressing room with trash. And Mr. Caan stated he known as out Wayne for dishonest at chess between takes. “He was so lame,” he instructed the Guardian. “He’d say, ‘Hey, Jimmy, what’s that over there,’ and shove the rook round whereas I gazed yonder like a schmuck.”

Mr. Caan’s marriages to dancer Dee Jay Mattis, Sheila Ryan (a Playboy mannequin and one-time girlfriend of Elvis Presley), Ingrid Hajek and costume designer Linda Stokes resulted in divorce. Survivors embrace 5 youngsters, together with actor Scott Caan from his second marriage.

Mr. Caan’s later roles included Arnold Schwarzenegger’s deceitful boss in “Eraser” (1996); a mobster in Lars von Trier’s disturbing avant-garde drama “Dogville” (2003); man-child Will Ferrell’s irritable father in “Elf” (2003); and a bodily “ripped” priest with a mood within the Adam Sandler comedy “That’s My Boy” (2012).

In a profession and personal life marked by vicissitudes, he was grateful for his affiliation with a well-liked hit (“Distress”) and a cinematic landmark (“The Godfather”).

“Look, you solely pray whenever you begin on this enterprise that you simply get to the purpose the place individuals acknowledge you,” he instructed Cigar Aficianado journal. “I’ve acquired lots of people who’re, like, ‘Hey, your ankle OK?’ from ‘Distress.’ . . . Or they’ll say, ‘Hey, don’t undergo that toll sales space once more’ or ‘Have the best change.’ ”

“It implies that they keep in mind the image,” he added. “There’s nothing to not like about it. The one factor that I get somewhat upset about is once I’m in a restaurant and folks . . . beckon me with their finger. I get somewhat sideways. I’m going, ‘No, you come right here! What, am I a taxi or one thing?’ ”

Alternatively, he stated, “I hope they by no means cease.”





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