John Nicholas Cassavetes (December 9, 1929 – February 3, 1989) was an American actor, screenwriter and filmmaker. He appeared in many Hollywood films. He is most notable as a pioneer of American independent film. His films are noted for their use of improvisation and a realistic cinéma vérité style.
Death and legacy
An alcoholic, Cassavetes died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1989 at the age of 59. He was survived by Rowlands and three children (Nick, Alexandra and Zoe).
At the time of his death, Cassavetes had amassed a collection of more than forty unproduced screenplays, as well as a novel of Husbands.
Cassavetes is the subject of several books about the actor/filmmakers life. Cassavetes on Cassavetes is a collection of interviews collected or conducted by Boston University film scholar Ray Carney, in which the late filmmaker recalls his experiences, influences and outlook in the film industry. In the Oscar 2005 edition of Vanity Fair magazine, one article features a tribute to Cassavetes by three members of his stock company: Rowlands, and actors Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk.
Many of John Cassavetes' films are now owned by Faces Distribution, a company overseen by Gena Rowlands and Julian Schlossberg, with Castle Hill Productions distributing.
In September 2004, The Criterion Collection produced a Region 1 DVD box set of his five independent films: Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Opening Night. Also featured in the set is a documentary about the life and works of Cassavetes called A Constant Forge, a booklet featuring critical assessments of the director's work, and tributes by old friends. In 2005, a box set of the same five films was released in Region 2 by Optimum Releasing. The Optimum DVD of Shadows has a voice-over commentary by Seymour Cassel. Mistakes about the first and second versions of the film are documented on Ray Carney's web site.
Cassavetes' son, Nick Cassavetes, followed in his father's footsteps as an actor and director. In 1997, Nick Cassavetes made the film She's So Lovely from the She's Delovely screenplay his father had written. The film starred Sean Penn, as John Cassavetes had originally wanted. Alexandra Cassavetes directed the documentary, Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession in 2004 and, in 2006, served as 2nd Unit Director on her brother Nick's film Alpha Dog. John Cassavetes' younger daughter, Zoe Cassavetes, wrote and directed the 2007 film, Broken English, featuring Rowlands and Parker Posey.
John Cassavetes is buried at Westwood Village Cemetery in Los Angeles. Gena Rowlands mother, Lady Rowlands, is buried next to him.
"Green Acres" actress Eva Gabor lies next to her.