One-Armed Push-ups All Around in Honor of Jack Palance

Jack Palance, who made a career out of bullying good guys and portraying stern, craggy-faced menaces, died Friday. Surrounded by family at his California ranch, he passed away from natural causes at the age of 87.

Before breaking into Hollywood, Palance attended the University of North Carolina on a football scholarship. Well over six feet and 200 pounds, he became a prizefighter. He fought for two years, but nothing was accomplished other than having his nose broken, which would serve him well for his numerous villain roles. Afterwards, he had a stint in the Army Air Corps and worked variously as a short-order cook, lifeguard, waiter, and hot dog vendor.

In 1950, Palance's luck turned and he made a distinguished film debut as a villain named Blackie in Elia Kazan's "Panic in the Streets." From that pulp masterpiece, Palance's output never let up steam. Across his fifty year acting legacy, he portrayed, on average, two roles a year, not including his numerous guest appearances on television.

1950's "Panic in the Streets" (91 %)

It was only two years after "Panic in the Streets" that Palance received his first Oscar nomination, and only one year after that he would receive his second. The first Oscar nom was for 1952's "Sudden Fear" a noir thriller in which Palance played an actor trying to seduce perennial noir damsel-in-distress Joan Crawford. The second nom was for his Jack Wilson, an evil gunslinger in 1953's "Shane." At 100% Tomatometer, it was a critical and commercial smash, and it cemented Palance's main Hollywood image: serious, imposing, and an able go-to guy for Westerns.

1952's "Sudden Fear;" 1953's "Shane"

After this early artistic peak, his roles and movies became so varied that he covered virtually every genre. He continued to do Westerns, such as 1966's "The Professionals" (100% on the Tomatometer) and "Young Guns". As Carl Grissom, he was there when comic books finally made it into Hollywood with Tim Burton's "Batman." Action buffs could see him in the buddy flicks "Tango and Cash" and "Cops and Robbersons." And with "Marquis de Sade: Justine," he's one of the few to make major actors to make his mark in camp erotic horror.

Even art house buffs would eventually have a run in with Palance, who played Jeremy Prokosch in Jean-Luc Godard's "Contempt." At 94% Tomatometer, it remains one of Godard's most accessible and celebrated films, and a unique opportunity to see Palance act alongside Brigitte Bardot, Fritz Lang, and Godard himself.

1964's "Contempt;" 1991's "City Slickers"

At the age of 72, nearly forty years after his last Oscar nomination, Palance won it in 1992 for his role in "City Slickers" as Curly Washburn, a spoof of his tough Westerner image. Upon accepting his award, he demonstrated his physical savvy by dropping to the stage and doing one-armed push-ups.

"That's nothing, really," he said.

Though Palance had a way with words, it also came up in unexpected ways: he published a book of poetry called "The Forest of Love," published by Summerhouse Press. And at one point, Palance famously called "most of the stuff" he did "garbage," and even more famously said of the directors he's worked with, "most of them shouldn't even be directing traffic."



Robert Kimberlin

R.I.P. Jack. You were a class act.

Nov 10 - 06:36 PM


joe fisher

Agreed. *Does one handed pushup*

Nov 10 - 06:37 PM


joe fisher

Agreed. *Does one handed pushup*

Nov 10 - 06:37 PM


victor lopez

[b]Today has died one of the best actors ever.[/b]
This man was an amazing actor, very charismatic and wow, I really admire him. I will continue watching and enjoying his performances forever.

Nov 10 - 08:56 PM


Kim Hutton

Of all the movies that I've seen him in over the years, for some reason Young Guns is the first one that comes to mind when I hear his name. He also had a hell of a voice that would make cheesy dialogue sound Shakespearean. He would have been a perfect fit for the LOTR's movies.

Nov 11 - 03:57 AM

Unbreakable Samurai

Unbreakable Samurai

That's to bad, R.I.P., you will be missed.

Nov 11 - 09:53 AM


George Kal

Jack Wilson: [throws a pistol at the sheep herders feet] Pick it up.
Sheep herder: I don't wanna pick it up, mister, you'll shoot me.
Jack Wilson: Pick up the gun.
Sheep herder: Look, mister, I don't want no trouble. I just came to town to get some hard rock candy for my kids and some gingham for my wife.
Jack Wilson: Pick up the gun.
Sheep herder: ...
[picks up the gun... and get's shot dead by Jack]
Jack Wilson: You all saw him... he had a gun

Nov 11 - 10:57 AM


Steven Allen


Nov 11 - 02:39 PM


victor h

if i could do a one arm push up i would, but i'll just have to stand and salute next time i watch City Slickers.

good night good man.

Nov 11 - 04:42 PM


Timothy Maddocks my number one guy.

Nov 11 - 04:59 PM


Robert Kimberlin

I also liked him in Tango and Cash and Cops & Robbersons.

Nov 12 - 07:05 AM


Eric Wiles

[b]The only thing More sad......[/b]
.....than the fact Im too old and out of shape to do a one handed pushup is Jack Palance leavin us.We Will Miss You.

Nov 12 - 05:33 PM


judah sealy

Favorite Jack Palance line: "You talk to me like that again and ill turn your BALLS into earings" R.I.P Jack *sheds small tear*

Nov 13 - 08:07 AM

What's Hot On RT

Critics Consensus
Critics Consensus

Transcendence is a Sci-Fi Snooze

Total Recall
Total Recall

Johnny Depp's Best Movies

24 Frames
24 Frames

Picture gallery of movie bears

Good Friday
Good Friday

50 movie posters gallery

Find us on:                 
Help | About | Jobs | Critics Submission | Press | API | Licensing | Mobile