Edward G. Robinson
Edward G. Robinson Soylent Green
Robinson in Soylent Green (1973)


December 12, 1893


January 26, 1973



Years active

1913 - 1973

Edward G. Robinson (1893 - 1973) was a Romanian-born American actor. A popular star during Hollywood's Golden Age, he is best remembered for his roles as gangsters, such as Rico in his star-making film Little Caesar and as Rocco in Key Largo. Other memorable roles include Barton Keyes in the film noir Double Indemnity, and as Dathan in The Ten Commandments. Robinson was selected for an Honorary Academy Award for his work in the film industry, which was posthumously awarded two months after the actor's death in 1973. He was included in the American Film Institute's list of the 25 greatest male stars in American cinema.

Early lifeEdit

Robinson was born as Emanuel Goldenberg to a Yiddish-speaking Romanian Jewish family in Bucharest, the son of Sarah (née Guttman) and Morris Goldenberg, a builder. After one of his brothers was attacked by an antisemitic mob, the family decided to emigrate to the United States. Robinson arrived in New York City on 14 February 1903. He grew up on the Lower East Side, had his Bar Mitzvah at First Roumanian-American congregation, and attended Townsend Harris High School and then the City College of New York. An interest in acting led to him winning an American Academy of Dramatic Arts scholarship, after which he changed his name to Edward G. Robinson (the G. signifying his original last name).


He began his acting career in 1913 and made his Broadway debut in 1915. He made his film debut in a minor and uncredited role in 1916; in 1923 he made his named debut as E. G. Robinson in The Bright Shawl. One of many actors who saw his career flourish in the new sound film era rather than falter, he made only three films prior to 1930 but left his stage career that year and made 14 films between 1930-1932.

Robinson was popular in the 1930s and 1940s and was able to avoid many flops during a 50-year career that included 101 films. An acclaimed performance as the gangster Caesar Enrico "Rico" Bandello in Little Caesar (1931) led to him being typecast as a "tough guy" for much of his early career in works such as Five Star Final (1931), Smart Money (1931; his only movie with James Cagney), Tiger Shark (1932), Kid Galahad (1937) with Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, and A Slight Case of Murder. Due to age, he could not qualify for military service during WWII. Instead in the 1940s, Robinson demonstrated his ability to succeed in comedic and film noir roles, including Raoul Walsh's Manpower (1941) with Marlene Dietrich and George Raft, Larceny, Inc. (1942) with Jane Wyman and Broderick Crawford, Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944) with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Window (1945) with Joan Bennett and Raymond Massey, Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street (1945) with Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea, and Orson Welles' The Stranger (1946) with Orson Welles and Loretta Young. As a memorable tribute to his past gangster roles, he appeared for director John Huston as 'Johnny Rocco' in Key Largo (1948). Key Largo would be the last of five films he made with Humphrey Bogart and the only one in which Bogart didn't play a supporting role. Bogart had top billing but Robinson's name was placed slightly higher and to the right of Bogart's on posters and in the film itself, and his image was larger and centered in the original posters, with Bogart in the background while Robinson wrestles with Lauren Bacall in the foreground. In the film's trailer, Bogart is mentioned more often but at the trailer's very end, Robinson's name is listed above Bogart's in a cast list of the main players. The role of Rocco was quite similar to that of Duke Mantee, Bogart's breakthrough role in 1936 that the studio had initially assigned to Robinson.


Robinson died from cancer in 1973, and is buried in a crypt in the family mausoleum at Beth-El Cemetery in the Ridgewood area of the borough of Queens in New York City.