Mar. 26th, 1940
The Bronx, New York, USA
James Caan's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles2009 - New York, I Love You
2009 - Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
2008 - Get Smart
2007 - Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project
2005 - Santa's Slay
2003 - Dogville
2003 - Elf
2002 - City of Ghosts
2000 - Luckytown
2000 - The Way of the Gun
2000 - The Yards
1999 - Mickey Blue Eyes
1996 - Bulletproof
1996 - Bottle Rocket
1996 - Eraser
1993 - The Program
1993 - Flesh and Bone
1992 - Honeymoon in Vegas
1990 - Misery
1990 - Dick Tracy
1988 - Alien Nation
1987 - Gardens of Stone
1981 - Thief
1979 - 1941
1979 - Chapter Two
1978 - Comes a Horseman
1977 - A Bridge Too Far
1976 - Silent Movie
1975 - Funny Lady
1975 - Rollerball
1975 - The Killer Elite
1974 - The Godfather: Part II
1974 - The Gambler
1974 - Freebie and the Bean
1972 - The Godfather
1968 - Countdown
1966 - El Dorado
1965 - The Glory Guys
1964 - Lady in a Cage
1963 - Irma la Douce
Guest TV Roles
Eugene David Holt
James Caan is New York born and bred (the son of a butcher). The athletically gifted Caan played football at Michigan State University while studying economics, holds a black belt in karate and for several years was even a regular on the rodeo circuit, where he was nicknamed "The Jewish Cowboy".
However, while studying at Hofstra University, he became intrigued by acting and was interviewed and accepted at 'Sanford Meisner' Neighborhood Playhouse. He then won a scholarship to study under acting coach 'Wynn Handman' and began to appear in several off-Broadway productions, including "I Roam" and "Mandingo".
He made his screen debut as a sailor in Irma la Douce (1963) and began to impress audiences with his work in Red Line 7000 (1965) and the western El Dorado (1966) alongside 'John Wayne' and 'Robert Mitchum'. Further work followed in Journey to Shiloh (1968) and in the sensitive The Rain People (1969). However, audiences were moved to tears as he put in a heart-rending performance as cancer-stricken Chicago Bears running back 'Brian Piccolo' in the highly rated made-for-TV film Brian's Song (1971).
With these strong performances under his belt, 'Francis Ford Coppola' then cast him as hot-tempered gangster Santino "Sonny" Corleone in the Mafia epic The Godfather (1972). The film was an enormous success, Caan scored a Best Supporting Actor nomination and, in the years since, the role has proven to be the one most fondly remembered by his legion of fans. He reprised the role for several flashback scenes in the sequel The Godfather: Part II (1974) and then moved on to several very diverse projects.
These included a cop-buddy crime partnership with 'Alan Arkin' in the uneven Freebie and the Bean (1974), a superb performance as a man playing for his life in The Gambler (1974) alongside 'Lauren Hutton', and pairing with 'Barbra Streisand' in Funny Lady (1975). Two further strong lead roles came up for him in 1975, first as futuristic sports star Jonathon E questioning the moral fiber of a sterile society in Rollerball (1975) and teaming up with 'Robert Duvall' in the 'Sam Peckinpah' spy thriller The Killer Elite (1975).
Unfortunately, Caan's rising star sputtered badly at this stage of his career, and several film projects failed to find fire with either critics or audiences. These included such failures as the hokey Harry and Walter Go to New York" (1976), the quasi-western Comes a Horseman (1978) and the saccharine Chapter Two (1979). However, he did score again with the stylish 'Michael Mann' directed heist movie "Thief" (1981). He followed this with a supernatural romantic comedy titled "Kiss Me Goodbye" (1982) and then, due to personal conflicts, dropped out of the spotlight for several years before returning with a stellar performance under old friend 'Francis Ford Coppola' in the moving "Gardens of Stone" (1987).
Caan appeared back in favor with fans and critics alike and raised his visibility with the sci-fi hit "Alien Nation" (1988) and "Dick Tracy" (1990), then surprised everyone by playing a meek romance novelist held captive after a car accident by a deranged fan in the dynamic "Misery" (1990). The 1990s were kind to him and he notched up roles as a band leader in "For the Boys" (1991), another gangster in "Honeymoon in Vegas" (1992), appeared in the indie hit "Bottle Rocket" (1996) and pursued 'Arnold Schwarzenegger' in "Eraser" (1996).
The demand on Caan's talents seems to have increased steadily over the past few years as he is making himself known to a new generation of fans. Recent hot onscreen roles have included "The Yards" (2000), "City of Ghosts" (2002) and "Dogville" (2003). In addition, he finds himself at the helm of the hit TV series "Las Vegas" (2003) as casino security chief "Big Ed" Deline.
Caan has been married four times. In 1960, he married Dee Jay Mathis; they divorced in 1966. They had a daughter, Tara A. Caan, born 1964. Caan's second marriage to Sheila Marie Ryan (a former girlfriend of Elvis Presley) in 1976 was short-lived; they divorced the following year. Their son, 'Scott Caan', who also is an actor, was born August 23, 1976.
Caan was married to Ingrid Hajek from September 1990 to March 1995; they had a son, Alexander James Caan, born 1991. He married the widow of alleged murdered Aspen Drug kingpin Steven Grabow, Linda Stokes in October 1996; they have two sons, James Arthur Caan (born 1995) and Jacob Nicholas Caan (born 1998). Caan filed for divorce on November 20, 2009, citing irreconcilable differences.
- Turned down plum roles in _MASH (1970)_ (qv) & _Apocalypse Now (1979)_ (qv).
- Played football for Michigan State University.
- Two generations of his family and the Coppola family have worked together. He worked with 'Francis Ford Coppola' (qv) most memorably in the first two Godfather films (_The Godfather (1972)_ (qv) and _The Godfather: Part II (1974)_ (qv)) and in _Gardens of Stone (1987)_ (qv). His son, 'Scott Caan' (qv), appeared in _Sonny (2002)_ (qv), which was directed by 'Nicolas Cage' (qv) and featured Cage and his brother, 'Marc Coppola' (qv). Sonny was also the name of Caan's "Godfather" character.
- Son of Arthur & Sophie Caan. His father was a kosher butcher.
- States that _Thief (1981)_ (qv) is one of his favorite films.
- Appears in _Misery (1990)_ (qv), which was directed by 'Rob Reiner' (qv). His son, 'Scott Caan' (qv), appeared in _Ocean's Eleven (2001)_ (qv) and _Ocean's Twelve (2004)_ (qv), opposite Reiner's father, 'Carl Reiner' (qv).
- While on sabbatical from acting he coached a Little League baseball team, there was one incident where his team's weakest player hit a home run that won a game. This incident is claimed by Caan as one of the greatest moments of his life.
- Spent 9 years on the pro rodeo circuit.