Eli Wallach will always be Tuco to me. For some actors who enjoyed a career as long and varied as Wallach, being persistently known for one role above all others would rankle. Judging by Wallach’s frequent interview conversations about his role in Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, he probably wouldn’t mind. Or he would understand, at least.
And Tuco is a hell of a performance, all bluster, willpower and charisma. In that respect, the role may actually be a good representation of the actor’s career. For Wallach was born to Polish Jewish parents, and grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn. No one looking very closely would have mistaken him for an actual Mexican bandit, but Wallach’s cagey energy and sardonic wit allowed him to own the role. Those were only a couple of the qualities that made him a mainstay of stage and screen for nearly sixty years. Eli Wallach died Tuesday, at age 98. Read More »