Vladimir Palahniuk, born February 18, 1919, was originally a professional heavyweight boxer in the 1940s. He fought under the name Jack Brazzo. When WWII broke out, his boxing career ended and his military career started. He was wounded in combat, received the Purple Heart, good conduct medal and the WWII Victory Medal. After the war Jack Palance began his motion picture career.
Most of his portrayals in films were of villains who almost exemplified evil. He played in over 50 westerns and melodramas and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in two of these films. Palance was of Ukrainian descent and grew up in Pennsylvania coal country. He served his time in the Army Air Force during WWII, studied journalism at Stanford University and was a sportswriter for the San Francisco Chronicle. He worked for radio and then decided to act.
His stage debut was in The Big Two in 1947 and he was the understudy to Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire. He played in stage in the Temporary Island (1948), The Vigil (1948) and The Silver Tassle in 1949. He started his film career with 20th Century Fox in Panic in the Streets (1950). He played the archetypal villain with a killer smile. His burned face and reconstructive surgery, a result of the crash of his WWII bomber, gave Palance the perfect demeanor to play villains.
In the 1950s, Palance played in Halls of Montezuma in 1950, Sudden Fear in 1952 and in Shane in 1953. He won an Emmy for Requiem for a Heavyweight in 1956.
He played in war and bible epics and spaghetti westerns in Europe and these included The Barbarians in 1960, Barabbas in 1961, and A Bullet for Rommel in 1969. He also played Dracula, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde in television programs. He won an Oscar for City Slickers (1991) and played in the City Slicker sequel.
Palance was married to Virginia Baker in 1949 and they divorced in 1968. They had three children. He married Elaine Rochelle Roger in 1987 until his death at 87 in 2006.