Today marks the 88th birthday of actor Lee Van Cleef, who sadly passed away in 1989. Mr. Van Cleef is probably best known for his many roles in various Spaghetti Westerns in the 1960′s and 1970s’. Perhaps most notable among these was his titular role as “The Bad” opposite Clint Eastwood’s “Good” in the 1966 western, The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Italian director Sergio Leone’s A Fistful Of Dollars launched the Spaghetti Western in 1964. This particular brand of cowboy movie produced by Italian studios and mainly shot on location in certain desert regions of Spain earned its name for its mainly Italian directors, producers, and supporting casts. While Leone’s 1968 film Once Upon A Time In The West (find the Blu-ray here, and the DVD here) might have more poetry packed into its scenes, The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly sealed the Spaghetti Western’s place in cinema history as a powerful and visually distinctive sub-genre of the Western.
You can read more about Mr. Van Cleef’s amazing career in show business in Mike Malloy’s Lee Van Cleef : A Biographical, Film, And Television Reference. While the latter stages of his career included some dodgy roles, including the title role in the short-lived martial arts series, The Master, Mr. Van Cleef was a working man’s actor, a pro’s pro loved by his co-stars and appreciated by his directors. While perhaps best known for his role as “The Bad,” his career in film was pretty darn good.