Name:
Jon Voight
Birth Date:
December 29, 1938
Birth Place:
Yonkers, New York, USA
Height:
6' 5
Nationality:
American
Famous for:
His role in 'Midnight Cowboy' (1969)
Profession:
actor
Education:
Archbishop Stepinac High School, in Yonkers
BIOGRAPHY
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Midnight Cowboy

Background:

"In most ways it was a damn good picture. But if we remade “Midnight Cowboy” today, the whole relationship between Buck and Ratso would have to be sexualized or at least made, you know, like in love...to be sexually or erotically honest." Jon Voight

Blond, blue-eyed actor Jon Voight, the father of budding actress Angelina Jolie, first broke into the Hollywood scene with his Academy Award nominated role of Texas hustler Joe Buck, opposite Dustin Hoffman, in John Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy (1969). He later won the prestigious award for starring in Coming Home (1978) and received nominations with his performances in Runaway Train (1985) and Ali (2001). An actor since the 1960s, Voight has appeared in such films as Deliverance (1972), Heat (1995), Mission: Impossible (1996), Enemy of the State (1998), Varsity Blues (1999), Pearl Harbor (2001), Uprising (2001), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Holes (2003), SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004) and National Treasure (2004).
As for his upcoming films, Voight will star in Glory Road, The Uninvited, Pope John Paul II (TV) and September Dawn.


Coming Home

Childhood and Family:

Of Czech and English descent Jonathan Voight was born on December 29, 1938, in Yonkers, New York, to parents Elmer (Czechoslovakian-American golf pro) and Barbara. He has two brothers, Chip Taylor (a.k.a. James Wesley Voight; musician; songwriter; wrote the rock anthem Wild Thing) and Barry (volcanologist). Grandson of a Czech immigrant, Jon attended Archbishop Stepinac High School in Yonkers and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (graduated in 1960; BFA; changed his major after his freshman year from Speech and Drama to Art). He also studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, NY (1960-1964).

During the Broadway run of The Sound of Music in New York, Jon Voight met actress Lauri Peters (born on July 2, 1943). They married in 1962, but then divorced in 1967. Four years later, Voight tied the knot with actress Marcheline Bertrand (born in 1950) on December 12, 1971. The couple separated in 1976 and divorced in 1978. Voight and Bertrand have two children: son James Haven Voight (director; born on May 11, 1973) and daughter Angelina Jolie (actress; born on June 4, 1975).

Jon Voight is the godfather of Skyler Shaye. In May of 2002, Voight was honored at a fund-raiser for Joseph Papp Children's Humanitarian Fund in New York City.

"I've always been there for my kids, always been there for the family." Jon Voight


Runaway Train

Career:

An activist in student theatricals in high school and at a Catholic University, Jon Voight began studying personally with Neighborhood Playhouse tutor Sanford Meisner and first appeared in an off-Broadway production of “O Oysters Revue.” Although the play received poor reviews, Voight rebounded with his Broadway debut role of "singing Nazi" Rolf in the hit “The Sound of Music,” alongside future first wife Laurie Peters. He subsequently landed on the small screen, appearing as a guest in the TV series "Naked City" and "The Defenders."

Voight debuted in film with the title role of a reluctant superhero in writer-director Philip Kaufman's satire Fearless Frank (shot in 1964; screened at Cannes in 1967; US release in 1969). He then returned to stage acting opposite Robert Duvall in an Off-Broadway production of Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge" (1965). After spending a season with the California National Shakespeare Festival in 1966, Voight won a Theatre World Award for his performance in Broadway’s "That Summer, That Fall" (1967). Voight was also spotted on such TV series as “Gunsmoke,” “Coronet Blue” and “NYPD.”

Joe Buck, a sickly Texas hustler trying to survive on the tough streets of New York, in John Schlesinger's adaptation of James Leo Herlihy's novel, Midnight Cowboy (1969), launched Voight to overnight stardom. Voight’s divergent turn, opposite Dustin Hoffman, earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. After the Oscar nomination, more roles rolled in. Voight acted opposite heavy-hitters Alan Arkin, Orson Welles, Martin Sheen, Bob Newhart and Anthony Perkins in Mike Nichols' provocative, antiwar satire film based on Joseph Heller's critically acclaimed, best-selling novel, Catch-22, and with Seymour Cassel and Robert Duvall in Paul Williams' low-budget drama, inspired by Hans Koningsberger's novel, The Revolutionary (both in 1970).

Two years later, Voight teamed with Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox in director John Boorman's harrowing adaptation of James Dickey's best-selling novel, Deliverance. He then portrayed real-life author Pat Conroy, a creative teacher with unusual common sense teaching methods, in Martin Ritt's screen version of Pat Conroy's book "The Water Is Wide," Conrack (1974). Voight next was seen as freelance journalist Peter Miller, who discovered a secret Nazi organization file, in Ronald Neame's adaptation of Frederick Forsyth's novel, the thriller The Odessa File (also in 1974). Voight also worked behind the stage, co-producing the play "The Hashish Club" in 1975.

Voight took home a Best Actor Academy Award in 1978, thanks to the portrayal of Luke Martin, a paraplegic Vietnam veteran who falls in love with Jane Fonda's character, in Hal Ashby's war drama Coming Home. He followed it up with the lead role of ex-champ, boxer Billy Flynn in Franco Zeffirelli's remake of the sentimental boxing drama The Champ (with Ricky Schroder and Faye Dunaway).

In the early 1980s, Voight produced, co-wrote and acted (as charming, happy-go-lucky gambler Alex Kovac) in Coming Home director Hal Ashby’s Lookin' to Get Out (1982, daughter Angelina Jolie Voight made her film acting debut as a child) and both produced and starred as a recently-divorced man who takes his three children on a luxury Mediterranean cruise, in Robert Lieberman's family drama Table for Five (1983). He also nabbed another Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his slightly over-the-top portrayal of Oscar 'Manny' Manheim, the "boss" of convicts in an Alaskan high security prison, in Andrei Konchalovsky's action film Runaway Train (1985, alongside Eric Roberts).

Voight delivered a strong performance as disillusioned, alcoholic WWII hero Jack Chismore, stepfather to Annabeth Gish and husband to JoBeth Williams, in Eugene Corr’s critically acclaimed family drama Desert Bloom (1986, also stars Ellen Barkin). He welcomed in the year 1990 by writing and playing the dual role of Edward/James in Steven Paul's direct-to-video release, Eternity, along with Armand Assante. After starring in the TV movie version of Robert Peter Gale and Thomas Hauser's books Chernobyl: The Final Warning (1991), Voight returned to stage, after a 16-year absence, to play Trigorin in a Broadway production of "The Sea Gull" at the National Actors Theater. He then portrayed ex-Texas Ranger, Capt. Woodrow F. Call in the CBS miniseries sequel "Return to Lonesome Dove" and guest starred as himself in an episode of NBC’s "Seinfeld."

The TV movie Tin Soldier (1995, Showtime), inspired by Hans Christian Anderson's "The Steadfast Tin," was Voight’s directional debut, with co-director Gregory Gieras. The film, which Voight also acted in, was cited at the Berlin Film Festival as the Best Children's Film and nominated for a CableACE Award. That same year, Voight costarred as thief Nate in writer-director Michael Mann's epic crime saga Heat (starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino) and became the leader of the "Impossible Missions Force," Jim Phelps, in Brian De Palma's adaptation of the TV series Mission: Impossible (starring Tom Cruise), in the next year. Off screen, Voight formed Jon Voight Entertainment (JVE).

In 1997, Voight played a humble storeowner, opposite Ving Rhames, in John Singleton's dramatization of a 1923 horrific, racist, lynch mob attack on an African American community, in Rosewood, and portrayed an insane snake expert in Luis Llosa's big-budget B-movie thrill ride, Anaconda (with Jennifer Lopez, Eric Stoltz and Ice Cube). He was almost-unrecognizable while appearing as a crafty, blind Native American in Oliver Stone's adaptation of John Ridley's book, U-Turn (starring Sean Penn, Nick Nolte and Jennifer Lopez). Voight received applause for portraying hotshot lawyer Leo Drummond in Francis Ford Coppola's courtroom drama, adopted from John Grisham's novel, The Rainmaker (with Matt Damon and Danny DeVito) and played a callous National Security Agency official in Tony Scott’s thriller Enemy of the State (starring Will Smith and Gene Hackman).

During the late 1990s, Voight was cast to play an Irish policeman on the trail of legendary Irish folk hero and criminal Martin Cahill (played by Brendan Gleeson), in John Boorman's biopic, based on Paul Williams' novel, The General, and as Texas high school football coach Bud Kilmer in Brian Robbins' Varsity Blues (costarring with James Van Der Beek). He also executive-produced Bob Clark's family comedy Baby Geniuses and went to play the title character in the NBC miniseries Noah's Ark (with Mary Steenburgen).

Voight beat out Gene Hackman to play US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor (starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale) and played the on-screen father of real-life daughter Angelina Jolie in Simon West's adaptation of the popular video game, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (both in 2001). He also snagged a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination for portraying Howard Cosell in Michael Mann’s biopic, Ali (2001, starring Will Smith). Voight was also seen on television with a costarring role in the NBC miniseries Uprising, (had limited theatrical release) and played the title role’s uncle in NBC’s movie Jim Henson's Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story.

The subsequent years watched Voight play Buffalo Bulls' coach Dichter in the TNT movie Second String (2002) and become Sigourney Weaver's assistant, Mr. Sir, in Sir Andrew Davis' adaptation of Louis Sachar's novel, Holes (2003). He then portrayed powerful media mogul Bill Biscane in Bob Clark's sequel to the 1999 TriStar Pictures release Baby Geniuses, SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2, and starred as a war vet and maintenance worker at the Ruby Pier Amusement Park in a TV movie adaptation of Mitch Albom's best-selling novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven (both in 2004). He also played a supporting role in Jon Turteltaub's action adventure National Treasure (2004, starring Nicolas Cage).

Voight just completed filming James Gartner's true story film about the underdog Texas Western basketball team, who surprisingly won the 1966 NCAA tournament title, Glory Road (starring Josh Lucas). He will soon complete Josef Rusnak's thriller The Uninvited, John Kent Harrison's biopic Pope John Paul II (TV, Voight plays the title role) and Christopher Cain's Western drama September Dawn.

"Being an actor and having success, you start thinking there must be something special about you. This is a big mistake. It's, 'I can have anything I want now.' So, what do you want? I felt guilty. I wore my ordinariness on my sleeve. Now I'm grateful for my celebrity. It allows me to focus on organizations that do good." Jon Voight


Awards:

  • Giffoni Film Festival: François Truffaut Award, 1995
  • CableACE: Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries, The Last of His Tribe, 1993
  • Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama, Runaway Train, 1986
  • Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture Actor - Drama, Coming Home, 1979
  • Academy Award: Best Actor in a Leading Role, Coming Home, 1979
  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Actor, Coming Home, 1978
  • New York Film Critics Circle: Best Actor, Coming Home, 1978
  • Cannes Film Festival: Best Actor, Coming Home, 1978
  • National Board of Review: Best Actor, Coming Home, 1978
  • British Film Academy: Most Promising Newcomer, Midnight Cowboy, 1969
  • Golden Globe: Most Promising Newcomer (Male), Midnight Cowboy, 1969
  • National Society of Film Critics: Best Actor, Midnight Cowboy, 1969
  • New York Film Critics Circle: Best Actor, Midnight Cowboy, 1969
  • Theatre World Award, That Summer, That Fall, 1967
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