John Garfield

March 4, 1913
Sun Sign
Zodiac Sign
Born Place
Rivington Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, New York City, New York, United States
Birth Name
Jacob Julius Garfinkle
Date of Death
May 21, 1952
Place of Death
New York City
5 ft 7 in or 170 cm
67 kg or 147.5 lbs
United States
United States
Eye Color
Dark Brown
Hair Color
Dark Brown
Race / Ethnicity
John Garfield was of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
Sexual Orientation
Julie W. Garfield

[John Garfield] Biography

John Garfield was an acclaimed American actor known for playing brooding and rebellious working-class characters. He grew up in poverty in New York City and joined the Group Theatre in the early 1930s. After being signed by Warner Bros in 1937, he earned Academy Award nominations for his performances in Four Daughters and Body and Soul. Unfortunately, Garfield's career was cut short after he refused to testify before the U.S. Congressional House Committee on Un-American Activities and denied any alleged communist affiliations. It is believed that the stress of this caused him to pass away at the age of 39 from a heart attack. Garfield is widely recognized today as a predecessor of the Method actors like Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and James Dean.

[John Garfield] Early life

John Garfield was born into a difficult family life in Manhattan's Lower East Side, where poverty and struggle were a daily reality. He soon became a gang leader due to his natural leadership skills. As a poor reader and speller, he had difficulties in school and was expelled multiple times. Fortunately for Garfield, he found his passion in speech therapy, where his teacher, Margaret O'Ryan, recognised his natural talent for acting and cast him in school plays. Eventually, Garfield was encouraged by his principal to join The Heckscher Foundation, which led him to attend drama school and eventually land his first Broadway role. Though it was short-lived, the credit gave Garfield an essential foot in the door, and his career in the theater flourished. Though there was a claim that Garfield frequented a bordello in New York, this has been disputed and there is no evidence to corroborate it.

John Garfield's difficult upbringing strongly shaped his life and career. Growing up in the heart of the Yiddish Theater District, his parents were Russian Jewish immigrants struggling to make a livings. His mother passed away when he was seven, leaving him and his brother Max to be sent to various relatives in poorer parts of Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx. Garfield spent most of his time in East Brooklyn, where he learned the roughness of the streets. He found solace in a boxing gym and eventually developed his natural ability to mimic others into a talent for acting. Even educationally, he was able to turn his weakness into a strength, with his speech therapy classes helping him to hone his newfound talents. He received a tremendous amount of support from his educators, Angelo Patri and Margaret O'Ryan, who cast him in school plays and encouraged him to take classes at The Heckscher Foundation and audition for Broadway roles. His first one may have been short, but it was enough to make an impression and open the door for further success.

[John Garfield] Personal life

John Garfield and Roberta Seidman married in February 1935. Roberta had been a member of the Communist Party, and together they had three children: Katherine (1938 – March 18, 1945), who sadly died of an allergic reaction; David (1943–1994) and Julie (born 1946), who both later became actors. After John Garfield's death in 1991, Roberta married motion picture and labor lawyer Sidney Cohn in 1954 and passed away in a Los Angeles nursing home in 2004. At the time of her death, Julie Garfield commented to the Los Angeles Times that her mother had been embittered by her husband's treatment by studio executives - who she felt had used Garfield as a scapegoat to draw attention away from others in Hollywood - as he had "formed his own production company and they felt threatened by him.”

[John Garfield] Achievements

* Received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance in John Huston's film "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946).

* Named one of the 10 Greatest Male Stars of All Time by the American Film Institute (AFI).

* Ranked #80 on Empire magazine's list of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history.

* Starred in such classic films as "Four Daughters" (1938), "Juarez" (1939), "Tortilla Flat" (1942), "Nobody Lives Forever" (1946), "Force of Evil" (1948), and "He Ran All the Way" (1951).

* Became one of the first actors to be placed under contract to a major Hollywood studio, Warner Bros., in 1936, and starred in over 30 films for the studio during the 1940s.

* Founded With The Playwrights, a group of playwrights and actors who staged productions of works by Clifford Odets, Irwin Shaw, and other notable playwrights.

* Made his Broadway debut in 1935 in the play "Got a Girl" and starred in a total of six Broadway productions during his acting career.

* Was an early member of the Group Theater, an influential collective of actors, directors, and playwrights founded in 1931.

* Received a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.

More Details


  • Often played brooding, rebellious, and working-class characters


  • Father – David Garfinkel (A clothes presser and part-time cantor)
  • Mother – Hannah
  • Siblings – Max Garfinkel (Younger Brother)
  • Others – Philip Garfinkel (Paternal Grandfather), Froim Margolis (Maternal Grandfather), Mariam Glikstein (Maternal Grandmother)

 Girlfriend / Spouse

  • Olivia de Havilland
  • Édith Piaf
  • Ann Rutherford
  • Roberta Seidman (1935-1952)
  • Joan Crawford (1940)
  • Hedy Lamarr (1942)
  • Lana Turner (1945)
  • Shelley Winters (1950)
  • June Eckstine (1952)
  • Iris Whitney (1952)


  • Actor
  • Character actor


  • Ezbob

 Founder of

  • Hollywood Canteen