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Film great Burt Lancaster and his Belfast connections

The Oscar winning actor's ancestors left Northern Ireland to seek a new life in the US and there are many who said they could detect an Ulster influence in his speech. Joe Cushnan is one of them

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Burt Lancaster (as Robert Stroud) in the movie BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ (1962), directed by John Frankenheimer.

Burt Lancaster (as Robert Stroud) in the movie BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ (1962), directed by John Frankenheimer.

Hollywood screenwriter Bill Norton (below left) and some of his most famous screen creations  Burt
Reynolds in Sam Whiskey (above) and Burt Lancaster in The Scalphunters (below right)

Hollywood screenwriter Bill Norton (below left) and some of his most famous screen creations Burt Reynolds in Sam Whiskey (above) and Burt Lancaster in The Scalphunters (below right)

Burt Lancaster (as Robert Stroud) in the movie BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ (1962), directed by John Frankenheimer.

Sixty years ago, in 1960, Elmer Gantry, starring Burt Lancaster, was released. His performance gained him his one and only Academy Award win for Best Actor. It is a bravura performance, of that there is no doubt. Lancaster's voice and delivery were very distinctive throughout his career and his intonation, the way his voice rose and fell in its flamboyance at times, could well have been influenced by his family's Northern Irish connections. Burt and Belfast are firmly connected by his Ulster ancestors.

Most film fans would agree that Lancaster was one of the Hollywood greats. His screen career began in 1946 with a stunning debut as Swede in film noir The Killers, opposite Ava Gardner. Over the next 45 years, he made some of cinema's finest movies. He was nominated four times for Academy Awards - including roles in From Here to Eternity, Birdman of Alcatraz, Atlantic City and Elmer Gantry.

He was adept in dramas, action films and westerns, and was one of the first Hollywood actors to gain control over most of his career choices when he formed his own production company in the early 1950s. In his younger days, he was well-honed and athletic in physical roles like Captain Vallo in The Crimson Pirate and in his later years intense and dark as more mature, dramatic characters.