Romanian-born US film star, renowned throughout the world for his gangster roles and his collection of paintings.
Born in Bucharest, Robinson emigrated with his family in 1903 to the USA, where they settled in New York. After attending City College he won a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts; he made his professional debut in 1913. Having carved out a notable stage career on Broadway, he made his screen debut in The Bright Shawl (1923). Short and stocky, with a distinctive face and twinkling eyes, Robinson first became known as Rico Bandello in the gangster classic Little Caesar (1931). Although he went on to make many other gangster films, the extent of his range was soon recognized with such film biographies as Dr Ehrlich's Magic Bullet and A Dispatch from Reuters (both 1940), as well as Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944), Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Window (1944), and Arthur Miller's All My Sons (1948). In the 1950s Robinson was summoned to appear before the Un-American Activities Committee and his film career went into temporary decline. For a time he returned to the stage and although the peak of his film career had passed he made several films in the 1960s, including Seven Thieves (1960), Sammy Going South (1963), and the highly successful The Cincinnati Kid (1965).
In recognition of his work for the cinema he was posthumously awarded a Special Academy Award. A noted art collector, Robinson at one time owned one of the finest collections of paintings in private hands. An autobiography, All My Yesterdays, was published in 1973.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Theatre.