Jon Voight - Biography

He may be known to many of today's younger generation of filmgoers as Angelina Jolie's dad, but with classic films such as Midnight Cowboy and Deliverance under his belt, actor Jon Voight long ago secured himself a place in Hollywood history.

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Angelina Jolie

December 29, 2000

Los Angeles


Horoscope : Capricorn

Jon was born on December 29, 1938, in Yonkers, New York state. His father Elmer, killed tragically in 1973 when he was hit by a car, was a Czechoslovakian immigrant who became a pro golfer. His mum, Barbara, was a substitute teacher. Jon had two siblings, one of whom also went into show biz. Chip Taylor, nee James Wesley Voight, wrote the hits Wild Thing and Angel In The Morning while the other, Barry, became a volcanologist.

The aspiring actor attended Catholic University of America in Washington DC, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1960, aged 22. He got his start on Broadway a year later, and starred in his first film, Fearless Frank, in 1964. The obscure flick wasn't released, however, until his breakthrough role as a not-too-bright Texan hustler in 1969's Midnight Cowboy shot him to fame and brought an Oscar nomination. \"Midnight Cowboy put a stamp on my career for which I'm very grateful,\" he said of the risqué role. \"It was very dangerous for its time.\"

The 6ft 5in blond took on another edgy role in the Oscar-nominated film Deliverance in 1972, and won an Academy Award for his part as a quadriplegic Vietnam War veteran in 1978's Coming Home. During the Seventies the self-described \"fussy\" actor was nearly cast in a number of future classics. He fought for a role in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest losing out to Jack Nicholson but turned down Ryan O'Neal's poignant part in Love Story.

Jon lowered his profile in the mid-Eighties in order to spend time with his family, particularly his mother Barbara who died of cancer in December 1995 aged 85. Work was narrowed to projects close to his heart, including The Last Of His Tribe and The Tin Soldier. \"I had many other things happening,\" he said of this difficult period in his life. \"For about five years, my mother was quite ill...and I spent a lot of time focusing on her. I tried everything I could do to work close to her.\" He accepted a role in Mission Impossible in part because he wanted to take his ailing mum along with him to the exotic shooting locales.

His latest projects have seen him play everything from US President Franklin D Roosevelt in Pearl Harbor to action-man dad to real-life daughter Angelina's Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. Despite the box-office blockbusters now on his resume, Jon doesn't believe success lies in a hefty pay check. \"My father used to say to me, 'Get the money, boy', because he knew what it meant to be poor,\" says Jon. \"But if you are making films you don\"t believe in... somewhere along the line you are losing your sense of truth.\"

Currently single, Jon has been married twice. His marriage to first wife Lauri Peters ended in 1967 after five years, and he wed Marcheline Bertrand in 1973. The couple were divorced in 1978. Having an inkling their kids might one day try their hand in Hollywood, Jon and Marcheline intentionally gave both their children middle names which could be used as stage monikers. The tactic seems to have worked Jon's son James Haven is now an actor and director, while daughter Angelina Jolie regularly sees her famous name in lights.
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