As a multi-talented film and stage performer with an intense comic flair, the diminutive and stocky Jewish-American character actor Alan Arkin built a career for himself out of playing slightly gruff and opinionated yet endearing eccentrics. Though not commonly recognized as such, Arkin's ability extends not only beyond the range of the comedic but far beyond the scope of acting. In addition to his before-the-camera work, Arkin is an accomplished theatrical and cinematic director, an author, and a gifted vocalist.
Born March 26, 1934, to immigrant parents of Russian and German Hebrew descent, Arkin came of age in New York City, then attended Los Angeles City College in the early '50s and launched his entertainment career as a key member of the folk band the Tarriers, alongside Erik Darling, Carl Carlton, and Bob Carey. Unfortunately, the Tarriers never managed to find a musical foothold amid the 1960s folk boom -- which, despite the success of a European tour in 1957, encouraged Arkin to leave the group and carve out a niche for himself in another arena.