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Robert Duvall

Updated on May 3, 2016

Early life

Robert, who's middle name is Selden, was born in San Diego on January 5, 1931. His mother, Mildred Duvall, was an amateur actress who believed in the Christian Science religion. His father, William Howard Duvall, was a U.S. Navy Admiral. Robert believes in the Christian Science religion, although he doesn't attend church.


He attended Principia College in Illinois, graduating in 1953. He joined the U.S. Army during the Korean War and left after two years as a Private First Class, receiving the National Defense Service Medal. After his service, he studied acting in New York at the Neighborhood Playhouse, appearing in plays both on and off Broadway.

Early acting career

Duvall made is film debut in 1963 at the age of 32, playing the quiet character known as Boo Radley in "To Kill A Mockingbird." Some of his earlier movie appearances include "The Chase," a small role in "Bullitt," "True Grit," "The Rain People" and "M*A*S*H*." His first big role was in "The Godfather," in 1972, playing an attorney named Tom Hagen. He continued the role two years later in "The Godfather, part II." Due to contractual differences, he didn't appear in the third Godfather movie.

Military influence

Robert used his experience growing up in the military and from his own service to bring life to some of the most memorable movies depicting the military. In 1976, he played Lieutenant-Colonel Max Radl in "The Eagle Has Landed," whose job it is to form a plan to kidnap Winston Churchill. He played Bull Meechum in "The Great Santini" in 1979. Bull is a great fighter pilot, but abusive at home.


One of his most acclaimed roles was as crazed Lieutenant-Colonel Bill Kilgore in "Apocalypse Now" in 1979. This character who "loves the smell of napalm in the morning" cared about the men in his command but took a delight in warfare. In 2003, he portrayed General Robert E. Lee in "Gods and Generals." Interesting to note is that his mother was a relative of Robert E. Lee.

Other roles

Not restricted to military films, Robert also appeared in movies such as "True Confessions," "Tender Mercies," "The Natural," "Colors," "Lonesome Dove" (mini-series), "Days of Thunder," "Something to Talk About," "Phenomenon," "The Apostle" and many more. He has appeared with many leading actors and actresses including Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Sean Penn and John Travolta, to name a few. All of these roles showed various aspects of human nature, captivating audiences.

Robert Duvall Tribute

Diverse talent

Robert Duvall's talents aren't limited to acting. He has earned credits for directing, producing, writing screenplays and music. Some of his credits include:

"We're Not the Jet Set" - Director

"Apocalypse Now" - Songwriter for Love Me and Let Me Love You

"Angelo, My love" - Screenplay writer, producer and director

"Tender Mercies" - Associate producer, song writer and performer

"The Apostle" - Screenplay writer, producer, director, song writer and performer

"Assassination Tango" - Screenplay writer, producer and director

Many of Duvall's films have either been nominated for or won awards. He received Academy Award nominations for movies such as "The Godfather," "Apocalypse Now," "The Great Santini," "Tender Mercies," "The Apostle" and "Civil Action," winning Best Actor for "Tender Mercies." He was nominated for Golden Globe awards for "Apocalypse Now," "Tender Mercies" and "Broken Tail," winning awards for "Apocalypse Now" and "Tender Mercies."

Robert Duvall's career spans many years and types of films and characters. He makes his characters come to life on screen, as shown by the many awards he's been nominated for and received. He has used his talents to participate in other areas of film making besides acting, showing his diversity and love for the industry.

Robert and Luciana Duvall

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