Lee J. Cobb

December 8, 1911
Sun Sign
Zodiac Sign
Born Place
The Bronx, New York City, New York, United States
Birth Name
Leo Jacoby
5 ft 11¾ in or 182 cm
76 kg or 167.5 lbs
Eye Color
Dark Brown
Hair Color
Salt and Pepper
Race / Ethnicity
He was of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
Sexual Orientation

[Lee J. Cobb] Early life and education

Lee J. Cobb was born in New York City to a Jewish family of Russian and Romanian origin. Growing up in the Bronx near Crotona Park, his parents were Benjamin (Benzion) Jacob, a compositor for a foreign-language newspaper, and Kate (Neilecht). He ran away from home at 16 to pursue an acting career in Hollywood, but after joining Borrah Minevitch's Harmonica Rascals and having a bit part in a short film, he was unable to find steady work and returned to New York. Combining acting with studying accounting at New York University while working as a radio salesman, he returned to California to study acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. At 23, he made his film debut in two episodes of the film serial The Vanishing Shadow (1934), followed by joining the Manhattan-based Group Theatre in 1935.

[Lee J. Cobb] Career

Lee J. Cobb was an acclaimed actor with a prolific career spanning Theatre, Film, and Television. He performed summer stock with the Group Theatre in 1936, appearing in such plays as Clifford Odets' Waiting for Lefty and Golden Boy, Ernest Hemingway's The Fifth Column, and Clash by Night. His Broadway debut as a saloonkeeper in Crime and Punishment was followed by the greatest success of his career, his portrayal of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman in 1949. His performance was lauded by Miller himself and won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Cobb's film career was just as successful as his theatre career, starring in award-winning films such as On the Waterfront, The Brothers Karamazov, and The Exorcist. He was also a much-loved character on television, appearing in 12 Angry Men, Doctor Max, Man of La Mancha, The Virginian, and Origins of the Mafia. He was nominated for both an Emmy and Golden Globe Award for his performances, proving his incredible versatility as an actor. He also starred in the famous ABC documentary Suddenly an Eagle, which aired six months after his death in 1976.

[Lee J. Cobb] Introduction

Lee J. Cobb was an American actor, known for his roles in film, television and on the Broadway stage. He was famous for playing intimidating and abrasive characters, but would also act as respectable figures like judges and police officers. Cobb notably originated the role of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's 1949 play Death of a Salesman under the direction of Elia Kazan. He was twice nominated for Academy Awards for his performances in On the Waterfront and The Brothers Karamazov. Cobb also starred in films such as 12 Angry Men, Man of the West, Exodus, How the West Was Won, Our Man Flint, and The Exorcist. On television, he starred in Western series The Virginian as Judge Henry Garth, as well as the ABC legal drama The Young Lawyers as David Barrett, for which he was nominated for an Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor Emmy Award three times. Following his death in 1976, Cobb was posthumously inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981.

More Details


  • A deep, husky voice
  • Often played arrogant, intimidating figures


  • Father – Benjamin (Benzion) Jacob (A compositor for a foreign-language newspaper)
  • Mother – Kate (Neilecht)
  • Others – Louis Smuckler (Ex Father-In-Law) (Theatre Artist), Anna (Ex Mother-In-Law) (Theatre Artist), Rosemary Morgan (Granddaughter) (Actor, Producer)

 Girlfriend / Spouse

  • Helen Beverley (1940-1952)​
  • Mary Brako Hirsch (1957-1976)