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Raúl Juliá: 1940-1994: Actor, Humanitarian

Theater Career Gave Way To Movies


Juliá convincingly replaced his Latin accent for the role of Macheath, a sinister Briton also known as Mack the Knife, in The Threepenny Opera, and earned a third Tony nomination. He married dancer Merel Poloway in 1976, and the couple had two sons. In 1977 he became involved with the Hunger Project, a charity whose goal was to eradicate world hunger, and he would remain an active supporter of the cause for the rest of his life. He also traveled to El Salvador in 1994 as a ballot observer in an election there, and was passionately dedicated to children's causes.

Juliá played Petruchio opposite Meryl Streep in a Broadway production of The Taming of the Shrew. As described in Raúl Juliá: Actor and Humanitarian, when Joseph Papp saw the performance he commented, "I thought he began to show himself as one of the major actors in this country." Although Papp had witnessed Juliá's talent before, "I'd never seen it so completely realized as when I saw him out there." Juliá was at work filming an adaptation of Shakespeare's Tempest in Rome in 1982, when he was offered a role in Nine, a 1982 play based on Federico Fellini's film 8 1/2. Nine was a breakthrough challenge for Juliá, who earned a fourth Tony nomination for his performance. As his popularity with moviegoers increased, Juliá drew heftier salaries for his stage roles.

Juliá's film career took off in the 1980s. While he made numerous movies during this era, he only appeared in a handful of plays, including Nine, Designs for Living, and Arms and the Man. Critics adored Juliá in Tempest, where he played Caliban, a bawdy goatherd on a Greek island who is met by the lead character, an adventure-seeking New York architect.


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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dan Jacobson Biography - Dan Jacobson comments: to Barbara Knutson (1959–2005) Biography - PersonalRaúl Juliá: 1940-1994: Actor, Humanitarian Biography - Fell In Love With Acting Early, Career Ranged From Shakespeare To Soaps, Theater Career Gave Way To Movies