F. Murray Abraham

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F. Murray Abraham
F Murray.Abraham cropped.jpg
F. Murray Abraham, 2008
Born Murray Abraham
(1939-10-24) October 24, 1939 (age 74)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1971–present
Spouse(s) Kate Hannan (m. 1962)

F. Murray Abraham (born Murray Abraham;12 October 24, 1939)3 is an American actor. He became widely known during the 1980s after winning the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Antonio Salieri in Amadeus (1984). He has appeared in many roles, both leading and supporting, in films such as All the President's Men (1976), Scarface (1983), The Name of the Rose (1986), Finding Forrester (2000), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). He is also known for his television and theatre work and is now a regular cast member on the award-winning TV series Homeland.

Early life

Abraham was born Murray Abraham in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Josephine (née Stello), a housewife, and Frederick Abraham, an auto mechanic.34 His father was an Assyrian Christian56 who immigrated from Syria during the 1920s famine; his paternal grandfather was a chanter in the Syriac Orthodox Church.3 His mother, one of fourteen children, was Italian American, and the daughter of an immigrant who worked in the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania.3 Abraham added "F." to his stage name in honor of his father's first name.1 He has stated "Murray Abraham just doesn't seem to say anything. It just is another name, so I thought I'd frame it".2 Abraham was raised in El Paso, Texas, near the Mexican border. He attended Vilas Grammar School, and graduated from El Paso High School in 1958.7 He was a gang member during his teenage years.3 He attended Texas Western College (later named 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.


Film and television

Abraham made his screen debut as an usher in the George C. Scott comedy They Might Be Giants (1971). Abraham can be seen as one of the undercover police officers along with Al Pacino in Sidney Lumet's Serpico (1973), and in television roles including the bad guy in one third-season episode of Kojak. He played a cab driver in the theatrical version of The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975), a mechanic in the theatrical version of The Sunshine Boys (1975), and one of the police officers in the film All the President's Men (1976) who arrests the Watergate burglars at the offices of the Democratic National Headquarters.

Until his acclaimed role in Amadeus (1984), Abraham was perhaps best known to audiences as drug dealer Omar Suárez alongside Pacino again in the gangster film Scarface (1983). He also gained visibility playing a talking bunch of grapes in a series of television commercials for Fruit of the Loom underwear.8

Abraham won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as envious composer Antonio Salieri in Amadeus (1984), an award for which Tom Hulce, playing Mozart in that movie, had also been nominated. He also won a Golden Globe, among other awards, and his role in the film, directed by Miloš Forman, is still his most iconic.

After Amadeus, he next appeared in The Name of the Rose (1986), in which he played Bernardo Gui, nemesis to Sean Connery's William of Baskerville. His director on the film, Jean-Jacques Annaud, has described Abraham - perhaps jokingly - as an "egomaniac" on the set, who considered himself more important than Sean Connery, since Connery did not have an Oscar.9 That said, the film was a critical success.10

Though Abraham had fewer prominent roles in the next decade or so, he also became known for his roles in 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. He also had a significant role in The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), but chose not to be credited due to a contract dispute.11

Abraham's relatively low-profile film career subsequent to his Academy Award has been widely considered an example of the "Oscar jinx". According to film critic Leonard Maltin, professional failure following an early success is referred to in Hollywood circles as the "F. Murray Abraham syndrome".12

After an extended period of low profile work, Abraham has recently been more prolific with mainstream film and television appearances. These have included guest appearances on popular television series such as Saving Grace, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Louie, among others, as well as a recurring role on The Good Wife. Additionally, Abraham has worked as the primary narrator for the PBS series Nature for 32 episodes spanning 2007–2010.13 Most notably, starting in 2013, Abraham has had a starring role in Showtime's drama series Homeland as mysterious black ops specialist Dar Adal.

He has recently appeared in prominent supporting roles in two widely acclaimed films: as a folk music impresario in the Coen brothers' drama Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) and Mr. Moustafa in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).


Since Amadeus, he has mainly focused on classical theatre, and has starred in many Shakespearean productions such as Othello and Richard III. He was highlighted in many other plays by the likes of Samuel Beckett and Gilbert and Sullivan, and played the lead in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (for which he received an Obie Award).

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. He reprised this role in February 2011, when he replaced Al Pacino in the Public Theater's production. In the 1997/98 Broadway season he starred in the new chamber musical Triumph of Love opposite Betty Buckley, based on Marivaux's classic comedy. The production did not find a large audience, running 85 performances, after its pre-opening preview period.14 He has also taught theater at Brooklyn College.

Personal life

Abraham has been married to Kate Hannan since 1962; they have two children,15 Mick and Jamili, and one grandchild.16

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 traded blows with a thief in the dressing room area during a public rehearsal.17



Year Title Role Notes
1971 They Might Be Giants Clyde
1973 Serpico Serpico's partner Uncredited
1975 The Prisoner of Second Avenue Taxi driver
1975 The Sunshine Boys Car mechanic
1976 All the President's Men Paul Leeper
1976 The Ritz Chris
1978 The Big Fix Eppis
1978 Madman
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
1989 The Favorite Abdul Hamid
1989 An Innocent Man Virgil Cane
1989 Slipstream Cornelius
1989 Beyond the Stars Dr. Harry Bertram
1989 Eye of the Widow Kharoun
1990 The Bonfire of the Vanities D.A. Abe Weiss Uncredited
1990 La Batalla de los Tres Reyes Osrain
1990 Cadence Capt. Ramon Garcia Uncredited
1991 Mobsters Arnold Rothstein
1991 Money Will Scarlet
1991 By the Sword Max Suba
1993 Last Action Hero Detective John Practice
1993 Sweet Killing Zargo
1993 Through an Open Window Narrator Short film
1993 National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon Dr. Harold Leacher
1994 Nostradamus Scalinger
1994 Surviving the Game Wolfe Sr.
1994 L’Affaire Lucien Haslans
1994 Jamila Older Seit
1994 Fresh Chess Hustler Uncredited
1995 Mighty Aphrodite Leader
1995 Dillinger and Capone Al Capone
1995 Baby Face Nelson Al Capone
1996 Children of the Revolution Joseph Stalin
1997 Mimic Dr. Gates
1997 Eruption President Mendoza
1998 Star Trek: Insurrection Ad’har Ru’afo
1999 The All New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy in 'For Love or Mummy' Prof. Covington
1999 Muppets From Space Noah

1999 Noah's Ark, Hallmark Entertainment,

2000 Finding Forrester Prof. Robert Crawford
2001 Thir13en Ghosts Cyrus Kristicos
2001 I Cavalieri che fecero l'impresa Delfinello da Coverzano
2002 Joshua Father Tardone
2002 Ticker Airport Guru Short
2003 My Father, Rua Alguem 5555 Paul Minsky
2003 Piazza delle cinque lune Entita
2003 Kingdom of David: The Saga of the Israelites Narrator
2004 The Bridge of San Luis Rey Viceroy of Peru
2004 Peperoni ripieni e pesci in faccia Jeffrey
2004 Another Way of Seeing Things Narrator
2006 The Inquiry Nathan
2006 Quiet Flows the Don Pantaley
2006 Il Mercante di pietre Shahid
2006 A House Divided Grandfather Wahid
2007 Carnera: The Walking Mountain Leon See
2007 Come le formiche Ruggero
2007 Blood Monkey Professor Hamilton
2009 Perestroika Professor Gross
2009 Barbarossa Siniscalco Barozzi
2011 Goltzius and the Pelican Company The Margrave of Alsace
2012 September Eleven 1683 Father Marco d'Aviano
2013 Dead Man Down Gregor
2013 Inside Llewyn Davis Bud Grossman
2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel Mr. Moustafa


Year Title Role Notes
1976 All in the Family Clerk Episode: "The Unemployment Story" part 1
1982, 1983 Marco Polo Jacopo
1986 Dream West Abraham Lincoln
1993 Journey To The Center Of The Earth Professor Harlech TV movie
1996 Dead Man's Walk Captain Caleb Cobb TV mini-series
1997 Color of Justice Jim Sullivan TV movie
1999 Excellent Cadavers Tommaso Buscetta TV movie
1999 Esther Mordechai the Jew TV movie 18
2000 The Darkling Bruno Rubin TV movie
2008 Shark Swarm Bill Girdler TV movie
2010 Bored to Death Professor Richard Hawkes Episode: "I've Been Living Like a Demented God!"
2010 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Dr. Theodore Nichols Episode: "Three-In-One"
2011, 2012, 2014 The Good Wife Burl Preston Episodes: "Net Worth", "Alienation of Affection", "Anatomy of a Joke", "Goliath and David"
2011, 2012 Louie John/Uncle Excelsior Episodes: "New Jersey/Airport", "Dad"
2012 Blue Bloods Leon Goodwin Episode: "The Job"
2012, 2013 Homeland Dar Adal Episodes: "Two Hats", "Broken Hearts", "Tin Man Is Down", "Uh... Oh... Ah...", "Tower of David", "Game On", "The Yoga Play", "Still Positive", "Gerontion", "A Red Wheelbarrow", "Horse and Wagon", "Good Night", "Big Man in Tehran", "The Star" (guest star in season two; regular cast member in season 3)
2013 Do No Harm Cozar Episode: "Six Feet Deep"
2013 Elementary Daniel Gottlieb Episode: "A Landmark Story"


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 2009 he was recognized by The Alumni Association of The College of New York City with John H. Finley Award in recognition of exemplary dedicated service to the City of New York.

In 2010 Abraham was the recipient of The Sir John Gielgud Award (Theatre) for that year.20

He also has an Honorary doctorate from the Rider College in Lawrenceville, in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States.

In popular culture

In The Simpsons episode "Homer Simpson in: "Kidney Trouble"", Homer rushes home to see Abraham on Inside the Actors Studio and does not stop 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.


  1. ^ a b "Getting to Know F. Murray Abraham". La Stage Times. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  2. ^ a b "Academy Award-Winning Actor F. Murray Abraham | The Diane Rehm Show from WAMU and NPR". The Diane Rehm Show. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Salomon, Andrew (2007-02-15). "The Lion in Winter". Backstage.com. Archived from the original on 2007-03-04. Retrieved 2007-02-15. 
  4. ^ How I Got My Equity Card. Actorsequity.org. Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  5. ^ F. Murray Abraham, Oscar Winner, Seeks Tolerance Through Arts. America.gov (2006-09-20). Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  6. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000719/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
  7. ^ Tales from the Morgue: Hometown stars – F. Murray Abraham. Elpasotimes.typepad.com (2008-07-10). Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  8. ^ F. Murray Abraham Biography – Yahoo! Movies. Movies.yahoo.com. Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  9. ^ Jean-Jacques Annaud, The Name of the Rose, DVD commentary, Warner Home Video, 2004.
  10. ^ "The Name of the Rose (Der Name der Rose)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  11. ^ The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) - Trivia
  12. ^ Is winning an Oscar a curse or a blessing? at the Wayback Machine (archived December 7, 2008) film.com (2007).
  13. ^ Filmography by TV series for F. Murray Abraham. imdb.com
  14. ^ The official source for Broadway Information. IBDB. Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  15. ^ The Movie : F. Murray Abraham at the Wayback Machine (archived September 28, 2007). amadeusimmortal.com
  16. ^ González, María Cortés. "Josephine Abraham, 96, loved life, according to famous son F. Murray Abraham". ElPasoTimes.com. El Paso Times and MediaNews Group. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  17. ^ Healy, Patrick (January 26, 2010). "F. Murray Abraham: Action Hero". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010. 
  18. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0168331/
  19. ^ Rizzo, Frank. (2011-05-18) F. Murray Abraham Receives Obie for Tresnjak Production of "Merchant". Blogs.courant.com. Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  20. ^ F. Murray Abraham Gielgud Award 2010. Vimeo.com (2011-01-17). Retrieved on 2012-10-15.

External links

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