James Caan (born March 26, 1939) is an American actor. He was born in the Bronx, New York. Caan began acting in television in such series as The Untouchables. His first substantial role in a movie was in the 1964 thriller Lady In A Cage in which he played a menacing villian. In 1967, he appeared in El Dorado with John Wayne. James Caan first won praise for his role as a brain-damaged football player in The Rain People (1969). This film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. In 1971, Mister Caan won even greater acclaim as dying football player Brian Piccolo in Brian's Song. This film is regarded by many as the greatest television film ever broadcast. The following year Francis Ford Coppola cast Caan as mobster Sonny Corleone in The Godfather. This film also helped to launch the career of Al Pacino.
Caan became a Hollywood superstar and won an Academy Award nomination for his role. From 1973 to 1982, Caan appeared in many Hollywood films. He played a wide variety of roles and refused to be typecast as a mobster. His many films include Cinderella Liberty, Freebie And The Bean, The Gambler, The Killer Elite, Rollerball, Harry And Walter Go To New York, A Bridge Too Far, Comes A Horseman and Chapter Two (A comedy by Neil Simon). In 1980, James Caan directed Hide In Plain Sight a film about a father searching for his children lost in the Witness Protection Program. Caan was a devoted family man all his life and said this film was a powerful one about family love and values. Despite critical praise, the film was not a hit. The following year, Caan appeared in Thief a film directed by Michael Mann where he played a professional safe cracker.
This film is today regarded as a film noir classic and Caan has often said it is the role he is proudest of next to The Godfather. From 1982 to 1987, Caan did not act in any films. He was suffering from depression over his sister's death, a growing problem with cocaine and what he described as Hollywood burnout. He made a stirring return to film in 1987 when his old friend Francis Ford Coppola cast him as an Army Sergeant in Gardens Of Stone, a film that dealt with the effect of the Vietnam War on the homefront. In 1988 and 1990, Caan starred in the popular films Alien Nation and Misery (His co-star Kathy Bates won a Best Actress Oscar). Caan made one of the most delightful films of his career in 1992 with the hit Honeymoon In Vegas. He co-starred with Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicholas Cage and hilariously spoofed his "Sonny Corleone" character from The Godfather. Mister Caan has continued to act on screen and on television.
In 1999, he joined the ranks of Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum and Powers Boothe when he portrayed Phillip Marlowe in the HBO film Poodle Springs. Amiable, down to earth and not afraid to tell it like it is, James Caan is a true gentleman, a tough guy with a heart of gold and a Hollywood survivor in every sense of the word.
He has been married twice. The first time was in 1976 to Sheila Ryan. The marriage was short lived, and they divorced the next year. He married again in 1996 to Linda Stokes. His son Jacon was born in 1998.