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Filmography

 1916     

Arms and the Woman 

 

1923      

The Bright Shawl

 

1929      

The Hole in the Wall 

 

1930      

Night Ride 

A Lady to Love 

Outside the Law 

East Is West 

The Widow from Chicago

 

1931      

Little Caesar 

The Stolen Jools

Smart Money 

Five Star Final

 

1932      

The Hatchet Man 

Two Seconds 

Tiger Shark 

Silver Dollar 

 

1933      

The Little Giant 

I Loved a Woman 

 

1934      

Dark Hazard

The Man with Two Faces

 

1935      

The Whole Town’s Talking 

Barbary Coast 

 

1936      

Bullets or Ballots 

 

1937      

Thunder in the City 

Kid Galahad 

The Last Gangster 

 

1938      

A Slight Case of Murder 

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse

I Am the Law 

 

1939      

Confessions of a Nazi Spy

Blackmail

 

1940      

Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet 

Brother Orchid 

A Dispatch from Reuter’s 

 

1941      

The Sea Wolf

Manpower 

Unholy Partners 

 

1942      

Larceny, Inc. 

Tales of Manhattan

 

1943      

Destroyer

 

1944

Tampico 

Double Indemnity 

Mr. Winkle Goes to War 

The Woman in the Window 

 

1945      

Our Vines Have Tender Grapes

Journey Together 

Scarlet Street 

 

1946      

The Stranger 

 

1947      

The Red House

 

1948      

All My Sons 

Key Largo 

Night Has a Thousand Eyes

 

1949      

House of Strangers 

 

1950      

Operation X 

 

1952      

Actors and Sin

 

1953      

Vice Squad 

Big Leaguer 

The Glass Web 

 

1954      

Black Tuesday 

 

1955      

The Violent Men 

Tight Spot 

A Bullet for Joey 

Illegal

Hell on Frisco Bay 

 

1956      

Nightmare 

The Ten Commandments 

 

1959      

A Hole in the Head 

 

1960      

Seven Thieves 

 

1962      

My Geisha 

Two Weeks in Another Town

 

1963      

Sammy Going South 

The Prize 

 

1964      

Robin and the 7 Hoods

Good Neighbor Sam 

Cheyenne Autumn

The Outrage

 

1965

The Cincinnati Kid

The Blonde from Peking 

Grand Slam 

Operation St. Peter’s 

 

1968      

The Biggest Bundle of Them All 

Never a Dull Moment 

It’s Your Move 

 

1969      

Mackenna’s Gold 

 

1970      

Song of Norway 

 

1972      

Neither by Day Nor by Night

 

1973      

Soylent Green 

Awards

Robinson was never nominated for an Academy Award, but in 1973 he was awarded an honorary Oscar in recognition that he had “achieved greatness as a player, a patron of the arts and a dedicated citizen … in sum, a Renaissance man”. He had been notified of the honor, but died two months before the award ceremony, so the award was accepted by his widow, Jane Robinson.

I didn’t play at collecting. No cigar anywhere was safe from me. ~ Edward G. Robinson

Edward G Robinson: Learn more about him, review his filmography and more

Actors, Biographies

Robinson was born as Emanuel Goldenberg to a Yiddish-speaking Romanian Jewish family in Bucharest, the son of Sarah (née Guttman) and Morris Goldenberg, a builder.

After one of his brothers was attacked by an antisemitic mob, the family decided to emigrate to the United States. Robinson arrived in New York City on February 14, 1903. He grew up on the Lower East Side, had his Bar Mitzvah at First Roumanian-American Congregation, and attended Townsend Harris High School and then the City College of New York, planning to become a criminal attorney. An interest in acting and performing in front of people led to him winning an American Academy of Dramatic Arts scholarship, after which he changed his name to Edward G. Robinson (the G. standing for his original surname).

He served in the US Navy during World War I, but was never sent overseas.

He began his acting career in the Yiddish Theater District in 1913 and made his Broadway debut in 1915. In 1923 made his named debut as E. G. Robinson in the silent film, The Bright Shawl. He played a snarling gangster in the 1927 Broadway police/crime drama The Racket, which led to his being cast in similar film roles. One of many actors who saw his career flourish in the new sound film era rather than falter, he made only three films prior to 1930, but left his stage career that year and made 14 films between 1930–1932.

Robinson went on to make a total of 101 films in his 50-year career. An acclaimed performance as the gangster Caesar Enrico “Rico” Bandello in Little Caesar (1931) led to being further typecast as a “tough guy” for much of his early career, in works such as Five Star Final (1931), Smart Money (1931; his only movie with James Cagney and Boris Karloff), Tiger Shark (1932), Kid Galahad (1937) with Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, and, in a send-up of his gangster roles, A Slight Case of Murder.

In 1939, at the time World War II broke out in Europe, he played an FBI agent in Confessions of a Nazi Spy, the first American film which showed Nazism as a threat to the United States. He volunteered for military service in June 1942 but was disqualified due to his age at 48, although he became an active and vocal critic of fascism and Nazism during that period.

The following year he played Paul Ehrlich in Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet (1940) and Paul Julius Reuter in A Dispatch from Reuter’s (1940), both biographies of prominent Jewish public figures. Meanwhile, throughout the 1940s Robinson also demonstrated his knack for both film noir and comedic roles, including Raoul Walsh’s Manpower (1941) with Marlene Dietrich and George Raft; Larceny, Inc. (1942) with Jane Wyman and Broderick Crawford; Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944) with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck; opposite Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea in Fritz Lang’s The Woman in the Window (1944) and Scarlet Street (1945); and Orson Welles’ The Stranger (1946) with Welles and Loretta Young. Robinson appeared for director John Huston as gangster Johnny Rocco in Key Largo (1948), the last of five films he made with Humphrey Bogart and the only one in which Bogart did not play a supporting role.

His career rehabilitation received a boost in 1954, when noted anti-communist director Cecil B. DeMille cast him as the traitorous Dathan in The Ten Commandments. The film was released in 1956, as was his psychological thriller Nightmare. After a subsequent short absence from the screen, Robinson’s film career—augmented by an increasing number of television roles—restarted for good in 1958/59, when he was second-billed after Frank Sinatra in the 1959 release A Hole in the Head. The last scene Robinson filmed was a euthanasia sequence, with friend and co-star Charlton Heston, in the science fiction cult film Soylent Green (1973); he died only twelve days later.

Robinson married his first wife, stage actress Gladys Lloyd, born Gladys Lloyd Cassell, in 1927; she was the former wife of Ralph L. Vestervelt and the daughter of Clement C. Cassell, an architect, sculptor and artist. The couple had one son, Edward G. Robinson, Jr. (a.k.a. Manny Robinson, 1933–1974), as well as a daughter from Gladys Robinson’s first marriage. In 1956 he was divorced from his wife. In 1958 he married Jane Bodenheimer, a dress designer professionally known as Jane Arden. Thereafter he also maintained a home in Palm Springs, California.

In noticeable contrast to many of his onscreen characters, Robinson was a sensitive, softly-spoken and cultured man, who spoke seven languages. Remaining a liberal Democrat despite his difficulties with HUAC, he attended the 1960 Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, California. He was a passionate art collector, eventually building up a significant private collection. In 1956, however, he was forced to sell his collection to pay for his divorce settlement with Gladys Robinson; his finances had also suffered due to underemployment in the early 1950s.

Robinson died at Mount Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles of bladder cancer on January 26, 1973. Services were held at Temple Israel in Los Angeles where Charlton Heston delivered the eulogy. Over 1,500 friends of Robinson attended, with another crowd of 500 people outside. His body was then flown to New York where it was entombed in a crypt in the family mausoleum at Beth-El Cemetery in Brooklyn.

In October 2000, Robinson’s image was imprinted on a U.S. postage stamp, its sixth in its Legends of Hollywood series.

In Our Bookstore

 

Hollywood’s Gangster Icons: The Lives and Careers of Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, and Edward G. Robinson
Little Caesar: A Biography of Edward G Robinson