Biagio "Ben" Gazzara was born in New York City . His parents were Italian immigrants . The young Gazzara grew up on the Lower East Side , which in those days was a dangerous neighborhood in New York. He studied at the Stuyvesant High School . There he discovered his talent as an actor, but he decided to study afterwards electrician to be. That study, he gave up after two years. Gazzara then studied drama at The New School in New York. He was taught by Erwin Piscator . Afterwards he was accepted into the Actors Studio .
During the 50s Ben Gazzara was featured in several Broadway shows. He played the lead role in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof , a production that was directed by Elia Kazan . Afterwards followed the eponymous film version starring and did not go to Gazzara, or to Paul Newman . In total Gazzara was during his career nominated three times for a Tony Award .
Gazzara also worked several times with John Cassavetes . In 1970 he played alongside Peter Falk in Husbands , directed by Cassavetes. In 1975, they were seen together in Capone , which Gazzara notorious gangster Al Capone put down. A year later, Gazzara took the lead role in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) for his account. This cult film was also directed by Cassavetes.
Gazzara also directed an episode of Columbo .
Over the years, Gazzara became a much sought-supporting actor. He was featured in several major productions as The Big Lebowski (1998), Happiness (1998), The Thomas Crown Affair(1999) and Dogville (2003). No easy task given by Gazzara in 1999, throat cancer was found. He followed a course of chemotherapy and emaciated tremendously during treatment.
Reportedly Gazzara had for a short period a relationship with actress Audrey Hepburn . They were seen in the late 70s along Bloodline (1979) and They All Laughed (1981). Gazzara was married to Louise Erickson. 1951 to 1957 From 1961 to 1979 he was married to actress Janice Rule . In 1982 he married the German model Each Krivat, with whom he remained until his death together.
In 2012, Gazzara died at age 81 of pancreatic cancer .
Gazzara was just before his death working on making a new movie called Max Rose , in which he compared the elderly comedian Jerry Lewis would play. Now he is deceased, it is unclear what will happen with this film.