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Elliot Gould Biography


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Birth Name: Elliot Gould
Born: 08/29/1938
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA


Gould's parents had emigrated from Eastern Europe and settled in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, NY, where Gould was born Elliot Goldstein on Aug. 29, 1938. His father worked in the garment business, while his mother kept the household in order. As a student at P.S. 247, Gould's younger years were clouded by the pressure to succeed and enormous parental expectations that would always stay with him. At the age of eight, his parents put him into dance classes to help cure him of a shy personality - an outlet that worked. Moving on to Manhattan's Professional Children's School across the East River, Gould found a quick fascination with tap dancing, which he continued to hone while enjoying summer stints working upstate in Catskills comedy clubs.

Gould finished school in 1955 and two years, at age 18, made it to Broadway with a stage debut in the musical "Rumple." By 1962, he was the star of another Broadway musical, "I Can Get It for You Wholesale." The project helped vault Gould's co-star, actress-singer Barbara Streisand, into the mainstream. Love blossomed between the two as "Wholesale" wound down, resulting in Gould moving into Streisand's apartment. In 1963, the couple married. Gould was a rising star, taking the lead onstage that year in "On the Town" in London, but as the decade progressed, he struggled to get even small onscreen parts within long, lean periods. Often supported by Streisand while working in theater, the couple had a son, Jason, in 1966, and Gould returned to Broadway with a strong turn as the nervous boyfriend Alfred Chamberlain of Jules Feiffer's "Little Murders." With the burden of Streisand's massive fame and their careers growing further apart, the couple separated in 1969, divorcing two years later.

As his marriage disintegrated, it seemed Gould's time had come, professionally. Having moved to Los Angeles, his ascent into film CAME swiftly with his debut role as the burlesque club owner Billy Minsky in "The Night They Raided Minsky's" (1968). On the momentum of that project, he jumped into bed with "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" - Paul Mazursky's look at the shifting of sexual "enlightenment" as experienced by two divergent Los Angeles couples. Gould's unconventional looks, coupled with his onscreen sense of swinging ambivalence, struck a chord with a culture similarly making sense of the changes in political and sexual attitudes. He was on a roll, and director Robert Altman - himself, a keen gauge of American culture - sensed it, casting Gould as the maverick surgeon "Trapper John" McIntyre in the Korean War satire "M*A*S*H" (1970). Gould, in his third at bat in movies, won an Oscar nomination in 1971 for his supporting role in the comedy classic which would inspire an equally brilliant television series.

As "M*A*S*H" was taking off in theaters, Gould was solidifying his unique leading man image, putting his range to use in comedies and dramas - including his role of the Vietnam veteran-turned-teacher of "Getting Straight" (1970), the sexually unfulfilled doctor of "I Love My Wife" (1970), and the reprisal of Alfred Chamberlain in Alan Arkin's adaptation of "Little Murders" (1971). Gould had an extraordinary and contentious working relationship with Ingmar Bergman on Bergman's infidelity drama "Beröringen" (1971), but capped off his impressive run with Altman's imagining of Raymond Chandler's hardboiled "The Long Kiss Goodbye" (1973), with Gould playing the cool, fast-quipping L.A. detective Philip Marlowe made famous years earlier by Humphrey Bogart.

Throughout the 1970s, Gould was working steadily, but the projects began to fit less snugly, as America veered away from the counterculture. He found love again with his second wife Jennifer Bogart, whom he married in 1973 after the couple had two children, Molly and Sam. Gould went back to working, thriving under Altman once again with the gambling drama "California Split" (1974), and later, as the Colonel Robert Stout of Richard Attenborough's war epic "A Bridge Too Far" (1977). He and Bogart divorced in 1976, but later remarried in 1978 after the end of Gould's serious relationship with actress Jennifer O'Neill. He was moving into bigger budget genre confections such as the cult thriller "Capricorn One" (1978), in which his sleuthing journalist followed a series of NASA murders, but he always maintained his credibility with the counterculture comics of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) - enough to host the show six times between 1975 and 1980.

Gould's career shifted into less edgy territory in the 1980s, softening his appeal and rendering him less relevant to a newer generation of audiences. He appeared in a pair of family-oriented Disney comedies, "The Last Flight of Noah's Ark" (1980), and opposite Bill Cosby as a soul destined for the fiery below in "The Devil and Max Devlin" (1981), which did little to help his career. In 1984, Gould summoned a strong performance in the homegrown New York drama "Over the Brooklyn Bridge," finding an equal measure of comedy and heart as a Jewish Brooklyn deli owner trying to start a Manhattan business while reconciling with his love for a Catholic model. That year, Gould also scrubbed in for a sitcom, starring as a divorced, Chicago surgeon on "E/R" (CBS, 1984-85), but the series petered out by the first season's end.

Capping out the decade, Gould's film and television resume seemed to have a longer trail of filler than he had expected, occasionally displaying some of the old magic, as he did as the probing police lieutenant of the murder mystery "Vanishing Act" (CBS, 1986). In 1989, he and wife Bogart finally divorced for good, and Gould entered the 1990s a single man facing mature career prospects. He made a triumphant return to form with a memorable appearance as the seedy Harry Greenberg of Warren Beatty's gangster epic "Bugsy" (1991), but it was the NBC series "Friends" a few years later that put Gould back on the cultural radar in a big way. As Jack Gellar, the good-natured, but fussy father of the Greenwich village-dwelling Gellar kids, Monica and Ross, Gould spent nine years recurring in the role across 10 seasons - often to hilarious results. Though he had always made guest spots and had multi-episode arcs on television, "Friends" became his career's most stable gig.

With his highest visibility in years, Gould was eager to stretch into a range of roles yet again. He appeared as a family man with a hidden sexual appetite for men in the indie film "Johns" (1996), then toured across U.S. stages as the scheming playwright Sidney Bruhl of "Deathtrap" - a role which forced him to bow out of Woody Allen's comedy "Deconstructing Harry" (1997). Gould then took to television screens again, tending to the oversight of a creepy estate in ABC's Stephen King miniseries, "The Shining"(1997). In 1998, Gould then had some small choice parts in a pair of divergent studio films - first as the sobriety-challenged Morton Shulman of the hitman comedy "The Big Hit" followed by the role of a Jewish schoolteacher at odds with a young skinhead in the gripping "American History X."

Gould's cached contributions to Hollywood were not lost on modern Hollywood heavyweights. His evolution into an elder statesman made him the right choice to play Reuben Tishkoff, the outrageous Las Vegas mogul helping to guide the crew of the new "Ocean's Eleven" (2001), for which George Clooney recruited his own team of safecrackers into a casino robbery. Gould and the highly attractive cast that included Brad Pitt and Matt Damon were nominated for an MTV Movie Award in 2002. A year later, the adoration of Clooney and "Ocean's" director Steven Soderbergh landed the actor on several episodes of their HBO political drama "K Street" (2003), with Gould playing the lobbyist firm owner Bergstrom Lowell. In this pair of collaborators, he had seemingly found his strongest champions since working with Robert Altman. He happily returned for another "Ocean's" frolic in "Ocean's Twelve" (2004), later followed by a third installment "Ocean's Thirteen" (2007), in which Tishkoff's hospitalization returned the franchise to the familiar Vegas setting and its most ambitious heist to date.