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"The most difficult thing in the world is to reveal yourself, to express what you have to. As an artist, I feel that we must try many things - but above all we must dare to fail. You must be willing to risk everything to really express it all."
John Nicholas Cassavetes was born on December 9, 1929 in New York City, New York to Greek immigrants. In 1950, he graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and quickly took small parts in films and television. By 1956, Cassavetes had begun teaching method acting in his own workshop in New York City. An improvisation exercise inspired the idea for his writing and directorial debut film, Shadows. Although unable to gain American distribution, the film won the Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival the next year. From this point until 1960, Cassavetes starred in a handful of B-movie and television productions before finally directing two pictures for Hollywood: Too Late Blues and A Child is Waiting. These films didn't launch Cassavetes' directing career, but did allow him to find acting work on high-profile television serials and movies, including The Dirty Dozen in 1967 and Rosemary's Baby in 1968. His success as an actor allowed Cassavetes to move to Los Angeles, California and finance, write, direct, and star in his own film called Faces, with his wife Gena Rowlands. Faces was nominated for three Academy Awards and garnered Cassavetes the attention and respect he needed to continue making independent films. From 1970 to 1984, a string of independent film classics was born: Husbands, Minnie and Moskowitz, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Opening Night, Gloria, and Love Streams. In 1984, Cassavetes was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver due to excessive alcohol consumption and given six months to live. By 1987, Cassavetes had defied this prognosis and wrote a three-act play called Woman of Mystery, which was presented that year at the Court Theater. Cassavetes worked throughout 1988 to produce a film titled She's Delovely, but the project stalled due to financial trouble. Cassavetes sadly succumbed to cirrhosis of the liver on February 3, 1989 at the age of 59. He is considered by most to be the Godfather of Independent Film.

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