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Burt Lancaster: Daring To Reach

Airs Friday, May 10, 2013 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Burt Lancaster

Burt Lancaster went from street-wise tough to art-collector liberal-activist, from circus-acrobat hunk to Academy Award winner. By age 18, Burt was 6'2" and blessed with the athletic physique and dynamic good looks that helped make him famous.

A stint in the Army introduced Burt to acting and led him to Hollywood where his first release, "The Killers" (1946), propelled him to stardom at age 32. He took control of his own career and seldom faltered.

Upon his death in 1994, four-time Academy Award-nominated Lancaster was acknowledged as one of the greatest stars in Hollywood. Lancaster's films include Westerns, costume epics and serious contemporary dramas. He starred in swashbucklers like "The Crimson Pirate" (1952), and in more risky roles, like the aging alcoholic in "Come Back Little Sheba" (1952).

Other acting triumphs were "The Rose Tattoo" (1955), "The Birdman of Alcatraz" (1962), "From Here to Eternity" (1953), "The Rainmaker" (1956), "The Sweet Smell of Success" (1957), "Elmer Gantry" (1960)— which earned him an Academy Award—and "Atlantic City" (1980).

Those interviewed include: directors Sydney Pollack, Ted Post, and Delbert Mann; actors Rhonda Fleming, Virginia Mayo, Terry Moore, Peter Riegert, Earl Holliman, Jeff Corey, producer James Hill, biographer Gary Fishgall and others.

Video

Above: "The Unforgiven" Trailer - Directed by John Huston and starring Burt Lancaster, Audie Murphy, John Saxon, Charles Bickford, Albert Salmi. The neighbors of a frontier family turn on them when it is suspected that their adopted daughter was stolen from the local Kiawa tribe.

Video

Above: An adventure film directed by Robert Siodmak. It stars Burt Lancaster, who also co-produced the film, as Captain Vallo, the eponymous pirate, and is set in the Caribbean late in the 18th century, on the fictional islands of Cobra and San Pero.