Back to : Westwood Memorial Park - Celebrity Graves
The Final Resting Place of John Cassaveties.
John Cassavetes 9th.December 1929 -
Actor and Film director.
Located to your left as you enter, approx 20 paces along and in front of rear wall.
Cassavetes was born in New York City to Nicholas John Cassavetes and Katherine Demetri, Greek immigrants. He grew up on Long Island, New York and attended high school at Blair Academy in New Jersey before moving to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. On graduation in 1950, he continued acting in the theater, took small parts in films, and began working on television.
Early films and acting
During this time he met and married actress Gena Rowlands. By 1956, Cassavetes had begun teaching method acting in workshops in New York City. An improvisation exercise in one workshop inspired the idea for his writing and directorial debut, Shadows (1959). Cassavetes raised the funds for production from friends and family, as well as listeners to a late-night radio talk show. Cassavetes was unable to get American distributors to carry Shadows, so he took it to Europe, where it won the Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival. European distributors later released the movie in the United States as an import. Although the attendances of Shadows in the United States was slight, it did gain attention from the Hollywood studios. Cassavetes directed two movies for Hollywood in the early 1960s — Too Late Blues and A Child is Waiting. He performed masterfully as an actor in films such as The Dirty Dozen (1967), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as a high strung army private, and in Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (1968) as a two faced actor. Other notable appearances include the role of the victim in Don Siegel's "The Killers", and as a vicious government nemesis to Kirk Douglas in "The Fury" (1978). His next film as a director was "Faces", starring his wife Rowlands. It depicts a contemporary marriage in slow disintegration. "Faces" was nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor and Actress). "Husbands" (1970) stars Cassavetes himself with Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara. They play a trio of married men on a London spree. Minnie and Moskowitz, about two unlikely lovers, has Rowlands with Seymour Cassel.
His three masterpieces of the 1970s were produced independently. A Woman Under the Influence (1974) stars Rowlands as an increasingly troubled housewife in an uncomprehending world. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, while Cassavetes was nominated for Best Director. In The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), Ben Gazzara plays Cosmo Vitelli, a small-time strip-club owner with an out-of-control gambling habit, pressured by mobsters to commit a murder to pay off his debt. Opening Night (1977) has Gena Rowlands as lead actress with Cassavetes, Ben Gazzara, and Joan Blondell. Rowlands portrays an aging film star named Myrtle Gordon working in the theater and suffering a personal crisis. Alone and unloved by her colleagues, in fear of age and always at a remove from others on account of her stardom, she succumbs to alcohol and hallucinations after witnessing the accidental death of a young fan. Ultimately she fights through this, delivering the performance of her life in a play. According to Laurence Gavron, Cassavetes worked on the screenplay for several years, refining and altering it. The production cost more than 1 1/2 million dollars and took more than one year to complete. The first cut was over five hours long, and only one copy of the final version was released in the U.S.
Gloria (1980) stars Rowlands as a mob moll who runs off with a young boy orphaned by the mob and soon to be next. Love Streams (1984) has Cassavetes as an aging swain who suffers the overbearing affection of his recently divorced sister. Cassavetes's last film, Big Trouble (1986), was taken over during filming from Andrew Bergman, who wrote the original screenplay.
Cassavetes died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1989 at the age of 59. He was survived by Rowlands and three children. His son, Nick Cassavetes, followed in his father's footsteps as an actor (Face/Off, Life) and director, and made 1997's significant "She's So Lovely" from the elder Cassavetes's screenplay; he also directed 2004's The Notebook.