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Michael Higgins

Highest Rated: 98% The Conversation (1974)

Lowest Rated: 10% The Arrangement (1969)

Birthday: Jan 20, 1921

Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, New York, USA

Primarily a New York-based actor since the '40s, Michael Higgins' film appearances were relatively limited until the late '70s -- but that didn't stop him from doing some exceptional and memorable work on the big and small screens. Born in Brooklyn, he attended St. Michael's High School in the middle and late '30s, which was where he was first bitten by the acting bug -- while in his teens, he ended up joining the Shakespeare Fellowship of America, a semi-professional performing group that performed the Bard's plays in high schools. His theatrical aspirations were interrupted by the Second World War, during which Higgins served with the 337th Infantry in Italy, where he was wounded in combat and achieved the rank of lieutenant, and earned a Bronze Star as well as the Purple Heart. After the war, he resumed his career and made his Broadway debut with Katharine Cornell in Candida in 1946. His subsequent Broadway credits included Antigone, The Lark, and Romeo and Juliet, and he also became a familiar figure on the off-Broadway stage, in productions of Doctor Faustus, White Devil, The First Year, and The Crucible, the latter in the role of John Proctor opposite Barbara Barrie as Elizabeth Proctor. His other theatrical credits included J.B., which he did on tour with Basil Rathbone in 1959 and 1960. Apart from a few isolated instances -- an early appearance in Joseph Henaberry's 1948 documentary Shades of Gray, and a lead performance in Irving Lerner's independently produced crime drama Edge of Fury (1958) -- Higgins didn't start working in movies until he had 25 years under his belt in theater. He did do lots of television, however, including some exceptional performances on anthology shows such as Omnibus, Playhouse 90, Studio One, One Step Beyond, and The Outer Limits ("The Mice," playing the too-trusting lead scientist), and even managed one major sitcom appearance, on The Andy Griffith Show (in "Barney Hosts a Summit Meeting," a much-watched episode that featured a return appearance by co-star Don Knotts). Generally, however, he was associated with more serious vehicles -- John Crosby of the New York Herald Tribune, writing of his portrayal of Hector in The Iliad, in the 1955 season opener of Omnibus, called Higgins "easily the best actor on the premises." He racked up exceptional reviews on the stage throughout the '50s and '60s, including a memorable turn as Macbeth at the 1962 New York Shakespeare Festival. From 1969 onward, starting with Elia Kazan's The Arrangement, Higgins began appearing regularly on the big screen, in important supporting roles and the occasional lead, such as in Barbara Loden's Wanda (1970), working with such diverse talents as Francis Ford Coppola in The Conversation (1974), Bryan Forbes in The Stepford Wives (1975), and Woody Allen in New York Stories (1989), and in cult favorites such as King of the Gypsies (1978) as well as mega-hits like The Black Stallion (1979). All of this was interspersed with occasional returns to television in vehicles such as James Goldstone's Kent State (1981). Indeed, television audiences of the 21st century may know Higgins best for his award-caliber guest performances in two episodes of the series Law & Order, in "In Memory Of," in which he played a man hiding an unspeakably brutal, decades-old crime that he committed against a 10-year-old boy, who is willing to sacrifice even his own daughter's mental health to protect himself; and "Ramparts," playing a retired campus security guard implicated in a 35-year-old shooting who discovers that he was himself an unintended victim of a subterfuge by the very forces of law-and-order that he thought he was protecting. Michael Higgins made both episodes memorable by his presence and performances, in roles evoking widely divergent levels of sympathy.

Highest Rated Movies



54% Maleficent Young Stefan $190.9M 2014
68% Synecdoche, New York Actor $3.1M 2008
39% The Favor Mr. Ritter 2008
89% The Savages Resident No. 1 $6.5M 2007
20% Fred Claus Actor $72M 2007
65% Off the Black Al Cook 2006
63% Clerks II Dancer $24M 2006
15% Swimfan Mr. Tillman $28.4M 2002
54% Austin Powers in Goldmember Dancer $213.1M 2002
86% State and Main Doc Wilson $5.8M 2000
No Score Yet Annie Dancer 1999
86% The Sixth Sense Actor 1999
62% The Impostors Older Man 1999
23% Just the Ticket Confessional Priest 1999
No Score Yet Calm at Sunset Grandpa 1996
No Score Yet Spellbreaker: Secret of the Leprechauns (Leapin' Leprechauns! 2) Casey 1996
60% School Ties Mr. Gierasch 1992
52% Death Becomes Her Dancer 1992
50% Wind Artemus 1992
No Score Yet An Empty Bed Man in 50's Restaurant 1990
33% Dead Bang Rev. Gebhardt 1989
75% New York Stories Robber $10.8M 1989
67% Crusoe Dr. Martin 1988
No Score Yet Courtship Mr. Vaughn 1987
79% Angel Heart Dr. Albert Fowler 1987
No Score Yet Barnum Phineas Taylor 1986
No Score Yet On Valentine's Day Henry Vaughn 1986
No Score Yet Nobody's Child Dr. Walker 1986
No Score Yet 1918 Mr. Vaughn 1985
38% Girls Just Want to Have Fun Featured Dancer 1985
No Score Yet Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter William Spear 1984
70% Rumble Fish Harrigan 1983
76% A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy Reynolds 1982
No Score Yet Kent State Actor 1981
86% Fort Apache, the Bronx Hefferman 1981
No Score Yet A Time for Miracles Actor 1980
No Score Yet Paul's Case Actor 1980
89% The Black Stallion Neville 1979
86% The Seduction of Joe Tynan Sen. Pardew 1979
80% King of the Gypsies Judge 1978
No Score Yet An Enemy of the People Billing 1978
69% The Stepford Wives Mr. Cornell 1975
98% The Conversation Paul 1974
No Score Yet Desperate Characters Francis Early 1971
91% Wanda Norman Dennis 1971
10% The Arrangement Michael 1969
No Score Yet Edge of Fury Actor 1958


10% I Hate My Teenage Daughter
Dancer No. 3 2011
No Score Yet Law & Order
Thad Messimer Darryl Grady Grady Messimer 1999
No Score Yet American Playhouse
Henry Vaughn Vaughn 1982
No Score Yet The Andy Griffith Show
Clifford 1968
No Score Yet Gunsmoke
Finnegan Cassidy 1964


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