By Ariel Scheib
Dustin Hoffman was born on August 8, 1937, in Los Angeles, California to Romanian Jewish parents. Hoffman initially wanted to became a concert pianist and attended the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. He then attended Santa Monica College with an interest in medicine, but shortly dropped out due to bad grades. Nevertheless, while attending Santa Monica he took an acting course and became very interested.
For two years, Hoffman performed at the Pasadena Playhouse with fellow actor Gene Hackman. Frustrated with school, Hoffman left for New York City. In 1960, Hoffman landed his first acting role in an off-Broadway production, followed by a walk-on role in a Broadway production in 1961. In 1966, Hoffman got his breakthrough with Mike Nichols’ film, The Graduate. For his performance in The Graduate, Hoffman received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. The American Film Institute ranked The Graduate as the #7 greatest movie of all time. In 1969, Hoffman was nominated for his second Academy Award, for his role of Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy.
Although, during the 1970s, Hoffman could obtain any major role in the film industry, he opted for roles in smaller-scale, character-driven films. Such films included Little Big Man (1970), Lenny (1974), and Marathon Man (1976). Finally, in Hoffman starred in the film, Kramer vs. Kramer, in which he picked up his first Academy Award for Best Actor in 1979.
During the 1980s, Hoffman starred in two of the best films ever made, Tootsie (1982) and Rain Man (1988). Hoffman’s performance in Rain Man would earn him his second Academy Award for Best Actor. Throughout the 1990s, Hoffman would take on many more large, studio films; such films included Speilberg’s Hook (1991), which earned him a Golden Globe nomination, and Wag the Dog (1997), which also brought him his 7th Academy Award nomination. Hoffman continues, into the 21st century, his astounding career with unforgettable performances and box office hits.
In 1990, Hoffman played Shylock in a revival of Shakespeare's "The Merchant Of Venice" on Broadway. For his performance as Shylock he received a Tony nomination as Best Actor.
Hoffman has been married twice, first with Anne Byrne who he married in May 1969, but divorced in 1980. Together they have two children, Karin and Jenna. Since October 1980, Hoffman has been married to Lisa Gottsegen, with whom he has four other children, Jacob, Max, Rebecca, and Alexandra.
Picture by: Diana Kremer