Edward Goldenberg Robinson was born Emanuel Goldenberg on December 12, 1893, in Bucharest, Romania. In 1903, Robinson’s family immigrated to New York City. Although, he attended the City College of New York, he soon won an American Academy of Dramatic Arts scholarship to pursue a career in acting. It was then that he changed his name to Edward G. Robinson.
Robinson began his acting career in 1913 and made his Broadway debut in 1915, in plays that included “The Kibitzer” (1929). In 1923, he made his named debut in the film The Bright Shawl. Although he only made three films prior to 1930, he left his stage career that same year and made fourteen films between 1930 and 1932. His performance as the gangster Rico Bandello in Little Caesar (1931) led to him being typecast as a ‘tough guy’ for much of his early career. Then in 1940, after his performance in Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet, Robinson expanded into daring psychological dramas, including Double Indemnity (1944).
During the 1950s McCarthy period , Robinson was blacklisted from film studios, after testifying in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee. This ended in 1956, when Cecil B. DeMille casted Robinson in The Ten Commandments. That same year he returned to Broadway in Middle of the Night. He was nominated for the 1956 Tony Award as Best Actor for Middle of the Night. Following his return to filmmaking, Robinson acted in some of his most notable roles, such as in the films Hole in the Head (1959) and The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Robinson died on January 26, 1973, at the age of 79, from cancer. Two months after his death, Robinson was awarded an honorary “Lifetime Achievement” Oscar for his life’s dedication to the furthering of arts.