Burt Lancaster is born in New York City, 1913. The former circus acrobat shot to fame with his first movie, 1946’s The Killers, beginning a 43-year career on the silver screen. “I woke up one day a star,” Lancaster said. “It was terrifying. Then I worked hard toward becoming a good actor.” As evidenced by his performances in Criss Cross (1949), The Rose Tattoo (1955) and Sweet Smell of Success (1957), he became one. Oscar chimed in as well, validating his acting abilities four times: Best Actor nods for From Here to Eternity (1953), Bird Man of Alcatraz (1962) and Atlantic City (1980); he won by preaching fire and brimstone in Elmer Gantry (1960).
Regarding From Here to Eternity, Lancaster felt nervous acting opposite Montgomery Clift (above, left) who, Method to the core, actually got drunk in a scene where both he and Lancaster sat in the middle of a road, soused. Director Fred Zinnemann remarked, “Clift forced the other actors to be much better than they really were. That's the only way I can put it. He got performances from the other actors, he got reactions from the other actors that were totally genuine.” Lancaster recalled a moment early in the shoot: "The only time I was ever really afraid as an actor was that first scene with Clift. It was my scene, understand: I was the sergeant, I gave the orders, he was just a private under me. Well, when we started, I couldn't stop my knees from shaking. I thought they might have to stop because my trembling would show. I was afraid he was going to blow me right off the screen.”