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F. Murray Abraham

F. Murray Abraham, 2008
Born Fahrid Murray Abraham
October 24, 1939 (1939-10-24) (age 70)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Other name(s) Frank Murray Abraham
Occupation Actor
Years active 1971–present
Spouse(s) Kate Hannan (m. 1962–present) «start: (1962)»"Marriage: Kate Hannan to F. Murray Abraham" Location: (linkback:

Fahrid Murray Abraham (born October 24, 1939)[1] is an ethnic Assyrian American actor. He became known during the 1980s after winning the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Antonio Salieri in Amadeus. He appeared in many roles, both leading and supporting, in films such as All the President's Men and Scarface. He is also known for his television and theatre work.


Early life

Abraham was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Josephine, a housewife, and Fahrid Abraham, an auto mechanic.[1] His father was an Assyrian Christian[2] who immigrated from Syria during the 1920s famine; his paternal grandfather was a cantor in the Syriac Orthodox Church.[1] Abraham's mother, one of fourteen children, was Italian American and the daughter of an immigrant who worked in the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania.[1] Abraham was raised in El Paso, Texas, near the Mexican border, where he was a gang member during his teenage years.[1] He attended Texas Western College (later named The University of Texas at El Paso), where he was given the best actor award by Alpha Psi Omega for his portrayal of the Indian nocona in 'Comanche Eagle' during the 1959-60 season. He attended the University of Texas at Austin, then studied acting under Uta Hagen in New York City. He began his acting career on the stage, debuting in a Los Angeles production of Ray Bradbury's The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.


Abraham made his screen debut as a taxi driver in Neil Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue. Abraham can be seen as one of the undercover police officers along with Al Pacino in Sidney Lumet's Serpico (1973). He also appears very early in All the President's Men as one of the police officers who arrests the Watergate burglars in the offices of the Democratic National Headquarters.

Until his acclaimed role in Amadeus, Abraham was perhaps best known to audiences as a talking leaf in a series of television commercials for Fruit of the Loom underwear.[3] He worked with Pacino again in the gangster film Scarface in 1983, playing drug dealer Omar Suárez. Abraham won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Antonio Salieri in Amadeus (1984). After Amadeus he has mainly focused on classical theatre, and has starred in many Shakespearean productions such as Othello and Richard III, as well as many other plays by the likes of Samuel Beckett and Gilbert and Sullivan. He is also known for his roles in The Name of the Rose (1986), in which he played Bernardo Gui, nemesis to Sean Connery's William of Baskerville, Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Ahdar Ru'afo in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), and Gus Van Sant's Finding Forrester (2000), where he once again played nemesis to Connery.

Abraham has focused on stage work throughout his career, giving notable performances as Pozzo in Mike Nichols's production of Waiting for Godot, Malvolio in Twelfth Night for the New York Shakespeare Festival, and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, for the Off Broadway Theatre For A New Audience (TFANA) in March 2007, which was performed at the Duke Theatre in New York and also at The Swan Theatre, part of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Abraham's relatively low-profile film career subsequent to his Academy Award has been held by many as an example of the so-called Oscar Jinx. So linked is Abraham with the phenomenon of winning an Oscar and yet failing to maintain the trajectory toward a high-level film career that, according to film critic Leonard Maltin, it is referred to in Hollywood circles as the F. Murray Abraham syndrome.[4] Abraham rejects this notion and once told an interviewer:

The Oscar is the single most important event of my career. I have dined with kings, shared equal billing with my idols, lectured at Harvard and Columbia. If this is a jinx, I'll take two.

In the same interview, Abraham said:

Even though I won the Oscar, I can still take the subway in New York, and nobody recognizes me. Some actors might find that disconcerting, but I find it refreshing.

Abraham most recently made a guest appearance on the popular television series Saving Grace, on which he played an angel, Matthew.

Personal life

Abraham has been married to Kate Hannan since 1962; they have two children.[5] He taught Theater at Brooklyn College.



Year Title Role Notes
1971 They Might Be Giants Clyde the usher
1973 Serpico Detective partner uncredited
1975 The Prisoner of Second Avenue Taxi Driver
1975 The Sunshine Boys Car Mechanic
1976 All the President's Men Paul Leeper
The Ritz Chris
1978 The Big Fix Eppis
1983 Scarface Omar Suárez
1984 Amadeus Antonio Salieri Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Actor
1986 The Name of the Rose Bernardo Gui
1988 Russicum - I giorni del diavolo aka The Third Solution
1989 The Favorite Abdul Hamid aka Intimate Power
An Innocent Man Virgil Cane
Slipstream Cornelius (at Museum)
Beyond the Stars Dr. Harry Bertram, the Whale Man
Eye of the Widow Kharoun
1990 The Bonfire of the Vanities D.A. Abe Weiss uncredited
La Batalla de los Tres Reyes Osrain aka Drums of Fire, English title
Cadence Capt. Ramon Garcia uncredited
1991 Mobsters Arno Rothstein aka The Evil Empire
Money Will Scarlet
By the Sword Max Suba
1993 Last Action Hero John Practice
Sweet Killing Zargo
Through an Open Window Narrator (Short)
National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon Dr. Harold Leacher
1994 Nostradamus Scalinger
Surviving the Game Wolfe Sr.
L’Affaire Lucien Haslans aka The Case
Jamila Older Seit
Fresh Chess Hustler uncredited
1995 Mighty Aphrodite Leader
Dillinger and Capone Al Capone
Baby Face Nelson Al Capone
1996 Children of the Revolution Joseph Stalin
1997 Mimic Dr. Gates
Eruption President Mendoza
1998 Star Trek: Insurrection Ad’har Ru’afo
1999 Excellent Cadavers Tommaso Buscetta
The All New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy in 'For Love or Mummy' Prof. Covington
Muppets From Space Noah
2000 Finding Forrester Prof. Robert Crawford
2001 Th13een Ghosts Cyrus Kriticos
I Cavalieri che fecero l'impresa Delfinello da Coverzano aka The Knights of the Quest USA title
2002 Joshua Father Tardone
Ticker Airport Guru aka The Hire: Ticker
2003 My Father, Rua Alguem 5555 Paul Minsky aka Josef Mengele – My Father
Piazza delle cinque lune Entita aka Five Moons Plaza - English title
2004 The Bridge of San Luis Rey Viceroy of Peru
Peperoni ripieni e pesci in faccia Jeffrey aka Too Much Romance... It's Time for Stuffed Peppers – USA title
Another Way of Seeing Things Narrator
2006 L’Inchiesta Nathan aka The Inquiry – English title
Quiet Flows the Don Pantaley
Il Mercante di pietre Shahid aka The Stone Merchant – English title
A House Divided Grandfather Wahid
2007 Carnera: The Walking Mountain Leon See
Come le formiche Ruggero aka Wine and Kisses – English title
Blood Monkey Professor Hamilton
2008 Shark Swarm (TV) Bill Girdler
2009 Perestroika Professor Gross
Barbarossa Siniscalco Barozzi
2010 I Looked in Obituaries Braque post-production

Theatre credits

Awards and honours



Awards for lifetime achievement

In July 2004, during a ceremony in Rome, he was awarded the "Premio per gli Italiani nel Mondo". This is a prize distributed by the Marzio Tremaglia foundation and the Italian government to Italian emigrants and their descendants who have distinguished themselves abroad.

In popular culture

In The Simpsons episode "Homer Simpson in: "Kidney Trouble"," Homer rushes home to see Abraham on Inside the Actors Studio and not stopping for a bathroom break, consequently costing his father his kidneys.

In the season six episode of Monk "Mr. Monk and His Biggest Fan" Abraham is an object of obsession of the character Marci Maven.

In January 2010, Abraham was the on-the-scene hero of a real-life crime scene at the Classic Stage Company in New York, when he helped detain a would-be thief in the dressing room area during a public rehearsal.[6]


External links

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