Body and Soul: The Story of John Garfield

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Body and Soul: The Story of John Garfield

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By Larry Swindell

Before there was Brando and James Dean, there was John Garfield. From his rough and tumble beginnings on the streets of the Bronx, Garfield’s talent and charisma drew him into the burgeoning New York theater scene. The tough street kid would go on to Hollywood superstardom, only to be brought down by the political turbulence of the McCarthy era.

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“I believe the more successful an actor becomes, the more chances he should take. An actor never stops learning.”  John Garfield 

Before there was Brando and James Dean, there was John Garfield. The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, young Jacob Julius Garfinkle’s talent and charisma carried him from membership in some of the Bronx’s toughest street gangs to the boards of the prestigious American Laboratory Theater.  

As mercurial as he was talented, Garfield chafed at what he deemed “unfair” casting choices in New York and headed west to Hollywood, scoring an Academy Award nomination for his very first film role. 

Strong-willed, and with a gambler’s bravado, Garfield was one of the first Hollywood stars to buck the studio system and start his own independent production company before being caught up in the career-jeopardizing web of McCarthyism.

Author Larry Swindell tells the tortured tale of this cult movie icon, whose incredible talent and turbulent lifestyle made his tragically short life so compelling decades after his death.