Eli Herschel Wallach (born December 7, 1915) is an American film, TV and stage actor, who gained fame in the late 1950s. For his performance in Baby Doll he won a BAFTA Award for Best Newcomer and a Golden Globe nomination. One of his most famous roles is that of Tuco in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Other roles include his portrayal of Don Altobello in The Godfather Part III and Arthur Abbott in the The Holiday. Wallach has received BAFTA Awards, Tony Awards and Emmy Awards for his work.
Wallach was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Bertha (née Schorr) and Abraham Wallach, the only Jewish family in a predominantly Italian American neighborhood. He graduated from The University of Texas at Austin and received a Masters of Arts from The City College of New York. However, he gained his first method experience at the Neighborhood Playhouse.
Wallach served as a staff sergeant in Hawaii in a military hospital in the United States Army in World War II. However, he was soon sent to Officer Candidate School in Abilene, Texas to undergo training to become a medical administrative officer. He graduated as a Second Lieutenant and was sent to Madison Barracks in New York, where he was promptly shipped to Casablanca and, later in the war, to France. It was there that a superior discovered his acting history and asked him to form a show for the patients. He and other members from his unit wrote a play called Is This the Army?, which was inspired by Irving Berlin's This is the Army. In the comedic play Wallach and the other men clowned around as various dictators, Wallach himself portraying Hitler.