Lee J. Cobb

Lee J. Cobb

Lee J. Cobb was an American actor best known for his performance in 12 Angry Men (1957), his Academy Award-nominated performance in On the Waterfront, and one of his last films, The Exorcist (1973). He also played the role of Willy Loman in the original Broadway production of Arthur Miller's 1949 play Death of a Salesman under the direction of Elia Kazan. On television, Cobb costarred in the first four seasons of the popular, long-running western series The Virginian. He typically played arrogant, intimidating, and abrasive characters, but often had roles as respectable figures such as judges. Born Leo Jacob in New York City, he grew up in The Bronx,  before studying at New York University and making his film debut in The Vanishing Shadow (1934).  Cobb performed in numerous theater productions and companies, including Group Theatre (New York) before serving in the First Motion Picture Unit of the Army Air Force during World War II.  

Following the war, Cobb returned to film, television and theater before being accused of being a Communist in 1951 testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee by Larry Parks, himself a former Communist Party member. Cobb was called to testify before HUAC but refused to do so for two years until, with his career threatened by the blacklist, he relented in 1953 and gave testimony in which he named 20 people as former members of the Communist Party USA. Following the hearing he resumed his career and worked with Elia Kazan and Budd Schulberg, two other HUAC "friendly witnesses", on the 1954 film On the Waterfront, which is widely seen as an allegory and apologia for testifying.  His 1968 performance as King Lear achieved the longest run (72 performances) for the play in Broadway history.  One of his final film roles was that of police detective Lt. Kinderman in the 1973 horror film The Exorcist.

Cobb died of a heart attack in February 1976 in Woodland Hills, California, and was buried in Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. He was survived by his second wife, Mary Hirsch, and daughter, also an accomplished actress, Julie Cobb.

YearTitleCharacterRelease Date
1978

The Meanest Men in the West

Judge Henry Garth1978-05-04
1976

La Legge Violenta Della Squadra Anticrimine

Dante Ragusa1976-12-30
1976

Nick the Sting

Robert Clark1976-09-14
1976
Nick the Sting
Robert Clarke1976-09-14
1976
Origins of the Mafia
Bartolomeo Gramignano1976-08-18
1976

That Lucky Touch

Lt. Gen. Henry Steedman1976-01-02
1975

Mark Shoots First

1975-12-22
1974

The Balloon Vendor

Twenty Years1974-12-21
1974
The Great Ice Rip-Off
Willy Calso1974-11-06
1974
Trapped Beneath the Sea
Victor Bateman1974-10-22
1973
The Exorcist
Lt. Kinderman1973-12-26
1973
The Great Kidnapping
1973-11-16
1973
Double Indemnity
Barton Keyes1973-10-13
1973
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing
Lapchance1973-06-28
1972
The Bull Of The West
Judge Garth1972-07-28
1971
Lawman
Vincent Bronson1971-01-01
1970
Macho Callahan
Duffy1970-08-17
1970
The Liberation of L.B. Jones
Oman Hedgepath1970-03-18
1969
Mackenna's Gold
The Editor1969-01-01
1968
They Came to Rob Las Vegas
Steve Skorsky1968-10-31
1968
Coogan's Bluff
Lt. McElroy1968-10-02
1968
The Day of the Owl
Don Mariano Arena1968-02-17
1967
In Like Flint
Lloyd C. Cramden1967-03-15
1966
Death of a Salesman
Willy Loman1966-05-07
1966
Our Man Flint
Cramden1966-01-16
1965
The Final Hour
Judge Henry Garth1965-05-27
1964
The Brazen Bell
Judge Henry Garth1964-03-18
1963
The Devil's Children
Judge Henry Garth1963-11-29
1963
Come Blow Your Horn
Harry R. Baker1963-06-05
1962
How the West Was Won
Marshal Lou Ramsey1962-11-01
1962
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Julio Madariaga1962-02-07
1960
Exodus
Barak Ben Canaan1960-03-27
1959
But Not For Me
Jeremiah MacDonald1959-08-19
1959
The Trap
Victor Massonetti1959-01-28
1958
Party Girl
Rico Angelo1958-10-28
1958
Man of the West
Dock Tobin1958-10-01
1958
The Brothers Karamazov
Father Karamazov1958-02-20
1957
The Three Faces of Eve
Doctor Curtis Luther1957-12-23
1957
The Garment Jungle
Walter Mitchell1957-04-25
1957
12 Angry Men
Juror 31957-03-25
1956
Miami Exposé
Lt. Barton 'Bart' Scott1956-09-01
1956
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit
Judge Bernstein1956-05-08
1955
The Left Hand of God
Mieh Yang1955-09-02
1955
The Road to Denver
Jim Donovan1955-06-15
1955
The Racers
Maglio1955-02-04
1954
Day of Triumph
Zadok1954-12-25
1954
On the Waterfront
Johnny Friendly1954-06-22
1954
Gorilla at Large
Detective Sgt. Garrison1954-05-01
1954
Yankee Pasha
Sultan1954-04-17
1953
The Tall Texan
Capt. Theodore Bess1953-01-01
1952
The Fighter
Durango1952-05-23
1951
The Family Secret
Howard Clark1951-10-21
1951
Sirocco
Col. Feroud1951-06-13
1950
The Man Who Cheated Himself
Lt. Ed Cullen1950-12-26
1949
Thieves' Highway
Mike Figlia1949-10-10
1948
The Dark Past
Dr. Andrew Collins1948-12-22
1948
The Luck of the Irish
David C. Augur1948-09-15
1948
The Miracle of the Bells
Marcus Harris1948-03-27
1948
Call Northside 777
Brian Kelly1948-02-01
1947
Captain from Castile
Juan Garcia1947-12-25
1947
Boomerang!
Chief Harold F. 'Robbie' Robinson1947-03-05
1947
Johnny O'Clock
Inspector Koch1947-01-23
1946
Anna and the King of Siam
Kralahome1946-08-11
1944
Winged Victory
Doctor (as Cpl. Lee Cobb)1944-12-22
1943
The Song of Bernadette
Dr. Dozous1943-12-21
1943
Buckskin Frontier
Jeptha Marr1943-05-14
1943
Tonight We Raid Calais
Bonnard1943-04-30
1943
The Moon Is Down
Dr. Albert Winter1943-03-14
1942
Paris Calling
Captain Schwabe1942-01-16
1940
This Thing Called Love
Julio Diestro1940-12-20
1939
Golden Boy
Mr. Bonaparte1939-09-05
1939
The Phantom Creeps
Road Crew Foreman (archive footage)1939-01-07
1938
Danger on the Air
Tony Lisotti1938-06-30
1937
Rustlers' Valley
Cal Howard (as Lee Colt)1937-07-23
1937
North of the Rio Grande
RR President Wooden (as Lee Cobb)1937-06-28
1934
The Vanishing Shadow
Roadwork Foreman1934-04-22