“It would be a lie if I told you I didn't know what to say, because I've been working on this speech for twenty-five years. But you're not going to hear any of those speeches, because none of them are under forty-five seconds... There's only one thing missing for me tonight, and that's to have Tom Hulce standing by my side.” F. Murray Abraham (on accepting his Best Actor Oscar)
F. Murray Abraham is an American actor of stage, film and television. He is most famous for playing the composer Antonio Salieri on Milos Forman's “Amadeus” (1984), from which he took home an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA nomination. Other films in which he has acted in include “All the President's Men” (1976), “Scarface” (1983), “The Name of the Rose” (1986), “Mobsters” (1991), “Mighty Aphrodite” (1995), “Mimic” (1997), “Muppets from Space” (1999), “Finding Forrester” (2000), Thirteen Ghosts” (2001), “Joshua” (2002), “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” (2004), “The Stone Merchant” (2006) and “Sword of War” (2009). More recently, he guest starred in television series like “Saving Grace” (2009), “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (2010), “Bored to Death” (2010) and “The Good Wife” (2011). An alum of NY's HB Studio, Abraham has stressed on stage work throughout his career. His stage credits include “Angels in America,” “The Ritz,” “Triumph of Love,” “Waiting for Godot,” “The Merchant of Venice,” “Twelfth Night,” “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” among other plays.
Abraham is married to Kate Hannan. He is the father of two.
Childhood and Family:
Fahrid Murray Abraham, who would later be popular as F. Murray Abraham, was born on October 24, 1939, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, his father, Fahrid Abraham, was an Assyrian/Syriac Christian who immigrated from Syria during the 1920s famine. He supported the family by working as an auto mechanic. His mother, Josephine, a housewife, was an Italian American. Fahrid was raised in El Paso, Texas, and attended Vilas Grammar School. After graduating from El Paso High School in 1958, he studied at Texas Western College (later known as University of Texas at El Paso), in which he was garnered the Best Actor Award by Alpha Psi Omega for his portrayal of the Indian Nocona in “Comanche Eagle” during the 1959-60 season. Fahrid then University of Texas at Austin and later studied acting under Uta Hagen at the HB Studio in New York.
Mr. Abraham married wife Kate Hannan on April 7, 1962. The couple have two children.
Waiting for Godot
F. Murray Abraham made his professional acting debut in a Los Angeles stage production of “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit” in 1965. In the following year, he landed his first Off-Broadway role in “The Fantasticks.” Abraham, however, did not make his screen debut until five years later when he was cast as Clyde (the usher) in “They Might Be Giants” (1971), a film based on the play of the same name (both written by James Goldman) starring George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward. He next appeared as one of the undercover police officers along with Al Pacino in “Serpico” (1973), a crime movie directed by Sidney Lumet. The same year, he made his television film debut in “Nightside,” playing the supporting role of Acky. He followed it up with a turn in the 1974 TV series “How to Survive a Marriage.”
Abraham portrayed a taxi driver in the film adaptation of Neil Simon's play, “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” (1975), directed by Melvin Frank and starring Jack Lemmon, Anne Bancroft and Gene Saks, a car mechanic in the big screen version of “The Sunshine Boy” (1975), helmed by Herbert Ross, and Sgt. Paul Leeper, one of the police officers who arrests the Watergate burglars in the offices of the Democratic National Headquarters in the Oscar winning political thriller film “All the President's Men” (1976), directed by Alan J. Pakula and starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. He also reprised his stage role of a gay bathhouse patron named Chris on the film version of “The Ritz” (1976), directed by Richard Lester, played Howard Eppis, a fugitive '60s activist, in the based on novel “The Big Fix” (1978), directed by Jeremy Kagan and starring Richard Dreyfuss, and starred with Claudia Amm and Michael Beck in the Israeli film “Madman” (1978). Abraham also appeared in episodes of the television series “Kojak” (1975, 1977), “All in the Family” (1976) and “ The Andros Targets” (1977) as well as in the pilot of “A.E.S. Hudson Street” (1977). He supported Barry Newman, Joanna Pettet and Keenan Wynn in the made for TV film “Sex and the Married Woman” (1977).
From December 1982 to January 1983, Abraham played the role of Jacopo in the Emmy Award winning TV miniseries “Marco Polo,” starring Ken Marshall as the title role. In 1983, Abraham offered a memorable turn as drug lord Omar Suarez on Brian De Palma's remake of “Scarface,” for which he reunited with Al Pacino. His breakthrough role came when the actor was cast as the envious Antonio Salieri on the period drama “Amadeus” (1984), directed by Miloš Forman and written by Peter Shaffer, based on his own stage play of the same name. The film was nominated for 53 awards and received 40, including eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture), four BAFTA Awards, four Golden Globes, and a DGA Award. Abraham himself won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Kansas City Film Critics Circle for Best Actor and Los Angeles Film Critics Association for Best Actor as well as a BAFTA Film nomination in the same category.
After “Amadeus,” Abraham played Sean Connery's nemesis, Bernardo Gui on the drama film “The Name of the Rose” (1986), directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The same year, he also portrayed President Abraham Lincoln in the TV miniseries “Dream West,” opposite Richard Chamberlain and Alice Krige. He continued to appear in such films as “The Third Solution” (1988), “Slipstream” (1989), “Beyond the Stars” (1989), “The Favorite” (1989) and “An Innocent Man” (1989). He also acted in the 1989 TV mini series “The Betrothed” and the 1989 TV film “Galileo Galilei.” On stage, Abraham co-starred with Robin Williams, Steve Martin and Bill Irwin in Mike Nichols' 1988 staging of “Waiting for Godot.” There he delivered a luminary performance as Pozzo.
In the 1990s, Abraham could be seen in many films like “Cadence” (1990), where he had an uncredited part as Capt. Ramon Garcia, “La batalla de los Tres Reyes” (1990), Brian De Palma's “The Bonfire of the Vanities” (1990), starring Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith, “Eye of the Widow” (1991), “Money” (1991), “Mobsters” (1991), in which he played the role of Arnold Rothstein, “By the Sword” (1991), “Loaded Weapon 1” (1993), “Sweet Killing” (1993), “Last Action Hero” (1993), “Fresh” (1994), “Jamila” (1994), “L'affaire” (1994), “Surviving the Game” (1994), “Nostradamus” (1994), “Dillinger and Capone” (1995, as Al Capone), “Mighty Aphrodite” (1995, with Mira Sorvino), “Children of the Revolution” (1996), “ Baby Face Nelson” (1996, as Al Capone), “Una vacanza all'inferno” (1997), “Eruption” (1997), Guillermo del Toro's science fiction/horror film “Mimic” (1997, reunited with Mira Sorvino), “Star Trek: Insurrection” (1998), “Muppets from Space” (1999, as Noah) and “The All New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy in 'For Love or Mummy'” (1999). He also acted in several of TV films such as “ Largo Desolato” (1990), “ A Season of Giants” (1991), “ The First Circle” (1992), “ Il caso Dozier” (1993), “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (1993), “Color of Justice” (1997), “Esther” (1999), “ Noah's Ark” (1999) and “ Excellent Cadavers” (1999) as well as in the TV miniseries “Dead Man's Walk” (1996), playing Caleb Cobb. Meanwhile, on stage, Abraham played Roy Cohn in “Angels in America” on Broadway in 1994, for which he replaced Ron Leibman on the role. He returned to Broadway in 1997 as a co-star in the musical “Triumph of Love.” In 1999, he was cast in the play “It s My Party (And I ll Die If I Want To),” with Joyce Van Patten.
Entering the new millennium, Abraham played the supporting role of a dishonest, close-minded high school teacher in “Finding Forrester” (2000), a drama film written by Mike Rich and directed by Gus Van Sant, and starring Sean Connery as William Forrester. He co-starred with Tony Shalhoub, Matthew Lillard and Embeth Davidtz in Steve Back's remake of “Thirteen Ghosts” (2001), in which he portrayed Cyrus Kriticos, an eccentric owner of a home that turns out to be haunted, was cast as Father Tardone in the film adaptation of “Joshua” (2002), which starred Tony Goldwyn as the title character, and supported Donald Sutherland, Giancarlo Giannini and Stefania Rocca in the Italian movie “Five Moons Plaza” (2003). In 2001, he was cast as Irving Mansfield in the stage play “Paper Doll,” which opened in Pittsburgh and later moved to Broadway in 2002.
Abraham co-starred with Silvia Abascal and Emiliano Coltorti in the European production film “Too Much Romance... It's Time for Stuffed Peppers” (2004), starred as Viceroy of Peru in “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” (2004), opposite Robert De Niro as Archbishop of Peru, Kathy Bates as The Marquesa, Gabriel Byrne as Brother Juniper and Geraldine Chaplin as The Abbess, worked with Rupert Everett and Delphine Forest in the British drama “Quiet Flows the Don” (2006), supported Harvey Keitel and Jane March in the drama/thriller film “The Stone Merchant” (2006) and played Nathan in the adventure film “The Inquiry” (2006), starring Daniele Liotti, Dolph Lundgren and Mónica Cruz. In 2007, he juggled lead roles as Shylock in Shakespeare's “The Merchant of Venice” and Barabas in Christopher Marlowe's “The Jew of Malta” at the Theatre for a New Audience. The same year, he also co-starred in the Italian comedy film “Wine and Kisses.”
Abraham co-starred with Eion Bailey and Linda Hardy in Mitch Davis' drama film, “ A House Divided” (2008), portrayed Professor Bill Girdler in the TV film “Shark Swarm” (2008), opposite Daryl Hannah, John Schneider and Armand Assante, was cast in the leading role of Prof Gross in the drama film “Perestroika” (2009), helmed by Slava Tsukerman, and worked with Rutger Hauer and Raz Degan in “Sword of War” (2009). He portrayed an angel named Mathew in an episode of the TNT hit show “Saving Grace” called “What Would You Do?” (2009). In 2010, he appeared as Dr. Theodore Nichols in “Three-in-One” (2010), an episode of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” He also guest starred in the HBO comedy series “Bored to Death” (2010) and the CBS legal drama series “The Good Wife” (2011).
Abraham will play roles in the upcoming films “Goltzius and the Pelican Company” (2011, as The Margrave ), “I Looked in Obituaries” (2011, directed by Giancarlo Giannini) and “September Eleven 1683” (2012, as Marco D'Aviano ).
Academy Award: Best Actor in a Leading Role, “Amadeus,” 1985
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, “Amadeus,” 1985
Kansas City Film Critics Circle (KCFCC): Best Actor, “Amadeus,” 1985
Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA): Best Actor, “Amadeus,” 1984