Eli Wallach was one of the most versatile and durable character actors of them all. This week he died at the age of 98, leaving behind an awesome catalog of memorable performances and characters that he created in many years of film work. In a film like THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY, Wallach was convincing playing a Mexican bandit, which was quite an achievement for someone who was the child of Polish Jewish parents who emigrated to an all Italian New York neighborhood. In other roles, such the 1960’s superhero series BATMAN, Wallach replaced former legendary filmmaker Otto Preminger as the diabolical Mr. Freeze. In THE GODFATHER Pt3 , Wallach was convincing as an Italian gangster. In both BABY DOLL as well as THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, Wallach’s superb skills as a top notch supporting actor were very noticeable and realized.
Few supporting actors displayed the convincing range of characters that Wallach displayed. He was a rare mix of talent seldom seen in your average supporting actor. An “A” grade entertainer, who seldom headlined a marqee. His film legacy will remain forever in some very great films. He was one of few great supporting actors where face closeups could display so much emotion or nonverbal cues. He was a true master of his trade.